By now you're probably aware that Lord Finesse is suing Mac Miller. If not, you can read some of the details here: Complex
This lawsuit has sparked much debate since the news broke. Predictably many have argued against Finesse on the basis of him being mad, old, and - this just in - practically homeless. This type of barbershop argument is commonplace on the Internet, so I won't waste much time commenting on lolz, but there is one point of contention in this mess that I find interesting, and that is the issue of clearing samples.
A lot of people (including Mac Miller) are under the belief that Finesse did not clear the sample(s) for this track. I don't know if this is true or not, but I initially failed to see (or ignored?) its relevance.
I knew it would be a matter of moments, and as expected, the relevance was soon made clear to me in a tweet by a Hip Hop producer (one of my favorites):
I believe the point being made here is that Lord Finesse is being somewhat hypocritical. Well, that really sounds like some unwritten rule shit to me. Do we not believe that Finesse is fully aware of the risk of legal action when using the work of other artists? If he was sued, do you think he would scream injustice, or resort to bitching? Shouldn't all artists (including new cats like Mac Miller) be aware of these same risks, regardless of what is being sampled (Jazz or Hip Hop), or how you intend to use the music? (Album or Mixtape)
Basically my position is this: whether or not a person cleared samples for their composition, it shouldn't absolve another person (and their management team) of not using due diligence when dealing with copyright laws. It's like a kid using the 'well he did it too!' argument. There was similar outrage when Chuck D. took issue with Bad Boy and DJ Premier sampling his voice for Ten Crack Commandments. "Hey Mr. Chuck...you've sampled in the past, why are you mad?"
Headz, understand this: The Four Elements, and 'back in my day' Hip Hop code of ethics do not hold up in a court of law. To throw another cliche out there, handle your business...properly.
I understand that Mac Miller has stated that he did have a conversation with Lord Finesse, and Lord Finesse says that his cease and desist letter was ignored. We don't know the full story, and we're all gonna have to wait for this to settle in or out of court.
Whether he has a case or not, can we please not act like Finesse doesn't the right to explore legal options, or that Mac Miller is under protection by some code.
This is the real world.
Hip Hop will not save you.