The lawsuit, that was brought by Osama Fahmy, the nephew of late Egyptian composer Baligh Hamdi whose song Khosara, Khosara (check out the back to back comparison at 4:48 here) is sampled on the track, was dismissed by U.S. District Judge Christina A. Snyder.
While the suit claimed that the song violated Hamdi’s “moral rights” under Egyptian law because Jay Z and Timbaland didn’t get permission to use the sample from Hamdi’s family, unfortunately for the family, Snyder declared that the Egyptian law did not apply. Stating that “Fahmy lacked standing to pursue his claim”, Synder went on to explain that “in light of that decision, it will not be necessary to submit to the jury whether Big Pimpin’ infringed Khosara Khosara“.
Meanwhile, Jay Z and Timbaland’s lawyers are reported to have told jurors that Hamdi’s family had been paid repeatedly for the use of the sample, and that the artists licensed the song through EMI.
Still, with the verdict now in, we can sit back and reflect over what must be one of the most bizarre trials in recent years. Let’s start with Jay-Z’s testimony.
Kicking things off by stating, “I didn’t think there was a sample in it… Timbaland presented me with a track. I didn’t even think about there being a sample”, Jay kept things short and sweet, giving mostly yes or no answers during his 90 min testimony. He did get a bit cheeky when discussing Kanye West however, saying one or two might know him as “he’s running for President.”
But wait, it just gets better, as when asked by the judge why he didn’t check on the sample’s rights, the rapper replied by listing his various business interests, with one notable omission.
“I make music, I’m a rapper, I’ve got a clothing line, I run a label, a media label called Roc Nation, with a sports agency, music publishing and management. Restaurants and nightclubs … I think that about covers it,” he said. “I’m not so sure” responded his lawyer “you have a music streaming service [Tidal], don’t you?” Jay responding with characteristic non-chalance “yeah, yeah. Forgot about that.”
Still the real highlight of the case goes to Timbaland, who gave testimony in the form of beat boxing. Seriously.
His lawyers had tried to have him compose a beat live in the courtroom to show how unimportant the Khosara Khosara sample was to the song, however after technical problems prevented him from doing so, he just busted it out street style on the beat box to “demonstrate the importance in his productions of the beat, not the samples”.
I’d love to read how the stenographer noted that particular piece of testimony. I mean how often do you see someone beat box from the witness box?
While this might be the last instance of “high court hip hop” for a couple of months at least, you can check out the video for the classic track here below.
Watch: Jay-Z – Big Pimpin’