Jay Z and Kanye West’s 2011 “Made in America”, which inspired Jay’s annual Budweiser Made in America festival, was a major hit single that appeared on the duo’s highly successful Watch the Throne album. Now, the single is causing a bit of a stir within the industry thanks to New York artist Joel McDonald, who is suing Jay Z and West for copyright infringement.
McDonald, who goes by the stage name Joel Mac, claims that the Jay and Kanye track lifts ideas from a song of his with the same name, released in 2009. Mac’s “Made in America” references Martin Luther King Jr and Malcolm X, as does Jay Z’s mega hit, which features vocals from Frank Ocean. The similar lyrical themes in both songs has prompted McDonald to take legal action, seeking $3 million in damages. Jay and West’s “America”, which was written by Jay Z, Kanye, Ocean, and West’s longtime collaborator/guitarist Mike Dean, garnered critical acclaim, often cited as a stand-out song from the collaborative album.
This isn’t the first time that Jay and Kanye have been hit with a lawsuit. The duo was sued in 2011 by singer Syl Johnson over a sample used in the Watch the Throne track “The Joy”, with Johnson claiming that the song’s sample of his “Different Strokes” wasn’t properly cleared for use. Jay Z, West, and Johnson settled the suit in 2012. In addition, Jay was sued along with the NBA earlier this year for $600 million in damages relating to the Brooklyn Nets’ trademark.
Jay Z and wife Beyonce have, as of late, been being plagued with divorce rumors and news of marital troubles, despite the pair’s recent appearance together on stage at the MTV Video Music Awards. Jay and Beyonce’s marriage has been in question publicly ever since a now infamous incident involving Beyonce’s sister Solange angrily hitting the “99 Problems” rapper in an elevator following the Met Gala, which was caught on security cameras and released publicly. While the elevator scuffle has since been clarified and a joint statement from the star couple and Solange has been released, Mr. and Mrs. Carter can’t seem to escape the divorce rumors. Jay Z’s father-in-law Matthew Knowles has now come out stating that the incident, along with the divorce rumors, were carefully calculated to increase ticket sales for the couple’s On the Run tour and Solange’s album sales. “I know, from experience, because we’ve done this, there’s a tour going on”, says Mr. Knowles. “So you have to sometimes ignite that tour. It’s called a Jedi mind trick! The Jedi mind trick fools you a lot of time”
Jay Z’s Made in America festival has expanded to two cities and two coasts this year, one remaining in its origin city of Philadelphia with a second concert taking place in Los Angeles. Jay’s latest release, Magna Carta Holy Grail, was released last year to mixed reviews, though the album did spawn multiple successful singles.
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