Chicago soul man Syl Johnson, who was the subject of a massive retrospective box issued by the Numero Group last year, has a beef with fellow Windy City resident Kanye West and his Watch The Throne partner Jay-Z. It seems that last year, West's lawyers and Numero were in negotiations over the use of a sample of Johnson's song "Different Strokes" on "The Joy," a West creation targeted for My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.
Talks broke down, and the song didn't make the album, but now it's turned up on Watch The Throne, the celebrated collabo by the two hotshot rappers, even though an agreement was never reached. The Numero Group is incorrectly listed as publisher on the WTT credits, and Johnson isn't gettng renumerated for his vocals on the album, which hit Number One upon its release earlier this month. The brouhaha is probably just a screw-up by the Kanye - Jay-Z legal team, but meanwhile, the 75 year old Johnson, who has battled Cypress Hill and others in copyright fights before, has cause to be agitated.
On its blog yesterday, Numero wrote "Island Def Jam seems to think that Syl doesn't have any fight left in him. We're betting otherwise." And on its Twitter feed, the label Tweeted "Hey @kanyewest & @Jayz, thanks for illegally sampling Syl Johnson on "The Joy" and then crediting us (?). Have your lawyers call our lawyer."