Ludacris and Kanye West Take The Stand in Song-Jacking Trial
As previously reported, New Jersey-based rap group I.O.F. filed suit against Ludacris, Kanye West and Universal Music for purportedly stealing the chorus for Luda's "Stand Up" from their song on "Straight Like That."
I.O.F., who are suing for $10 million in damages, claim that they gave Ludarcris copies of the song between August 2002 and May 2003, before he released the single "Stand Up" via his album Chicken and Beer in October 2003.
During Ludacris' testimony on Thursday, Mel Sachs, the attorney who represents the I.O.F, asked the rapper whether "Straight Like That" had any similarities to his song, "Stand Up"
"I'm not a musicologist, but I see them to be completely different," Ludacris answered.
Sachs seeks to prove that the words "like that" were repeated more than 80 times in each song. The word "straight" proceeds "like that" in I.O.F.'s version, while the word "just" precedes it on Luda's version.
Ludacris testified that he believes the words are repeated fewer than 80 times in his song and he had never heard the expression "straight like that" or the song by that title until he was sued. He also added that he had used "like that" in a 1999 song.
During Kanye's testimony, U.S. District Judge Kevin Castel asked him to say the first two lines of "Stand Up." West shot a grin at Ludacris before beginning, "How you ain't gonna fuck?"
"I'm sorry I asked," said Castel with a chuckle, as nearly everyone in the courtroom, including the jurors, laughed out loud. "I think I'm going to withdraw my question."
West would then go on to tell the court that it was not unusual that "Stand Up" and "Straight Like That" would both repeatedly use the words "like that."
"There's a lot of rap songs that say, 'like that,' 'what's up' or 'throw your hands high,'" said West. "Whatever people say in the hood, it ends up on records. That's what hip-hop does."
West also testified that the first time he ever heard "Straight Like That" was when they were hit with the suit. Christine Lepera, lawyer for both rappers and EMI April Music Inc., has asked the jury to reject the claims of I.O.F. and their company BMS Entertainment/Heat Music LLC.
The on-going trial, which is in its third day, is seeking to determine liability. If liability is found, a second phase of the trial will assess damages.