Chicago house legend Marshall Jefferson is suing Kanye West over the use of a sample from his 1986 track Move Your Body.
Jefferson claims that Kanye has used an unlicensed Move Your Body sample 22 times in his track Flowers, which was released in February on the Donda 2 album. Jefferson's publisher, Ultra International Music Publishing, filed the complaint on Wednesday 29 June at New York's US District Court. Kanye and his record label have not publicly commented on Jefferson's claims.
Speaking with BBC Radio 1, Jefferson commented: "I've been sampled thousands of times. There is a right way and a wrong way to go about it. Getting done by another artist, a Black artist, a fellow Chicagoan, without acknowledgment is disappointing."
Jefferson and his legal team allege that West has previously admitted to sampling the record without authorisation, but did not make an attempt to secure a licence for the sample, and has not paid for its usage. In February, Kanye claimed that he had netted over $2.2million in revenue from the first 24 hours of sales of the Stem Player, the device on which the album Donda 2 was released.
Jefferson is seeking both profits and damages to be determined at trial, or a maximum of $150,000 statutory damages per infringement, which would add up to a total of $33million for 22 uses of the Move Your Body sample. "West advocates for artists' rights with one hand, yet has no shame in taking away rights from another artist with the other," the lawsuit says of the US rapper and hip-hop artist.
Marshall Jefferson's Move Your Body was released on Chicago house institution Trax Records in 1986. A pioneering example of classic house music, it was one of the first tracks of its kind to feature syncopated piano chords, now one of the hallmarks of the genre.
Read our 2021 interview with Marshall Jefferson.