Music Is Supposed to Inspire

So if you all have not been paying attention to the wonderful world of music, you would know that the great artistic minds (Robin Thicke, Pharrell Williams, & Clifford “T.I” Harris) of the 2013 hit “Blurred Lines” was being counter-sued by the Gaye family for $25 Million! For what might you ask? Stealing from Marvin Gaye’s 1977 hit single “Got to Give It Up”.
So here are the numbers. The song made roughly over $25 Million once you count all the participating people (artists, producer(s), tours, record labels & etc.). The family is being awarded close to $7.4 Million. That is about $4 million in copyright damages. And they were also hit with copyright infringement (using works that have copyright protection), thus taking from Pharrell-$1.6 Million, from Robin Thicke-$1.77 Million and, well, T.I was simply asked for his part (songwriting credit) & therefore keeps his $707,744.
Personally the $25 Million that was requested is ridiculous to me. I believe it was an opportunity to make money & less about his legacy. Sue for what? Marvin Gaye cannot benefit from that money (God rest his soul). I personally bought a digital copy of the original song. Family cookout playlists just isn’t enough. But anyway-did sales increase off the remake? I would say yes based off of my purchase. I also challenge the musical judgement here. If we’re going to court lets lay it all out! Written music, like English, is a language. My musical grammar is very limited but I do know that when written these two songs are very different. Did anyone bring that into the courtroom? So technically speaking (a court of law is technical right?) did they really steal the music? Like, c’mon. I hope they bring that into question in the appeal. Plus producer/engineer of the 1977 hit Mr. Art Stewart or his people never made mention of anything about it from what I know. The only other person fully involved with the original song. So again, sue for what?
Now if the great Mr. Gaye were still alive, I 100% do believe that the genius Neptunes producer would have already asked him years ago to join him on the track or asked him to be in the studio with him to listen to the end result. Rick Rubin style. Forget the money and recreate a beautiful sound that Gaye & Stewart created. Marvin’s Room, a classic drake song recorded at Marvin Gaye’s studio, is just another example of how Gaye inspired everyone in the culture! As an artist-& really only an artist or music junkie would understand-I hear songs all the time from different artist that I would LOVE to recreate. Not STEAL. Simply RECREATE. I hear a melody, write some lyrics & bam-a potential hit. This happens on average 1 million times a day. Like the Gap Band music for example. Hey Uncle Charlie! Jay Z isn’t being sued by the Basquiat or Picasso estate for being inspired by the deceased painters.
Now when I first heard the song “Blurred Lines” on the radio I thought it was Marvin Gaye so I got excited. But 10 seconds into the song I knew it wasn’t Marvin Gaye but I thought to myself “Pharrell did it again Pierre!” (Pierre is my cousin/producer man in the family who unknowingly put me onto Pharrell and music production in general). Correct me if I am wrong but: why not add some new age sound by mixing Pharrell’s genius, add some pop-R&B-ish vocals of Mr. Thicke & add a sprinkle of Hip Hop by the King of the South. The same way the new culture of Black artist do with ALL the greats. Tupac & Dr. Dre added Roger Troutman in California Love, Snoop Dog always samples Charlie Wilson, & numerous artist sample Biggie. (RIP to the greats).
I do not have a problem with the songs sounding similar. And squeezing money from artist is sad. Now if they truly stole the music? Okay, carry on. But again, in my best Lauryn Hill voice “music is supposed to inspire.” So let it.

With Love,

-Mo Shands

3 thoughts on “Music Is Supposed to Inspire

  1. I so feel the same way. Isn’t that what “genre” is supposed to be about?! Similar style. How many beatmakers copied that trap sound Lex Luger got famous for? Nobody used anyone else’s words or ripped the original audio, I’m not understanding the problem. I just don’t think you should be able to sue for copying the “feel of a track”.


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