Syl Johnson has officially filed a lawsuit against Jay-Z and Kanye West for sampling his song without permission. The lawsuit claims that the rappers took pieces from Johnson's 1967 song "Different Strokes" to use in their track "The Joy" off their hit album Watch the Throne. When an attempt to get the go ahead to use the song sample in West's album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy did not grant the permission in time for the album's release, the statement claims that Jay-Z and Kanye proceeded with the sample to use in Watch the Throne instead.
“Defendants are aware that Plaintiff’s own the copyrights to ‘Different Strokes’ as Defendants attempted to obtain permission to use an excerpt from this composition on West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy,” Johnson’s lawyer writes in the complaint. “When Defendants were unable to legally obtain the rights to this composition for West’s album, Defendants withheld releasing ‘The Joy.’ Despite having never received permission to use an excerpt from ‘Different Strokes,’ Defendants nonetheless released ‘The Joy’ shortly thereafter on Watch the Throne.”
Johnson and his Syl-Zel Music company are seeking to seize all copies of Watch the Throne, have an account of all sales and proceeds, as well as punitive damages.