hip hop music

May 6, 2003

Federal Court Weighs in on "Back That Azz Up"

It's funny to see the criteria used when our legal system wants to determine whether one rapper is biting another.

Jubilee's expert witness asserted that both songs have the same hook, similar tempo and arrangement, while Juvenile's counter-expert pointed out that among other things "Jubilee's is in the key of A-flat, a major key, while Juvenile's is in D minor".

Although I haven't heard Jubilee's song, going by Hip-Hop aesthetics I'd think if you took the hook then you are probably biting, regardless of what key you are in. But the court's standards are obviously based on very different musical sensibilities.

Rapper Juvenile bests Jubilee in court

The question facing a federal jury was: Exactly which rapper was the first to "Back That Azz Up"?

Was it Jerome Temple, the West Jefferson High School special education teacher who, as his alter ego DJ Jubilee, is a favorite at local block parties and dances? Or was it Terius "Juvenile" Gray, whose version of the song made him a star and introduced the New Orleans "bounce" sound to a nationwide audience?

At stake were millions of dollars. The success of Juvenile's version helped sell millions of copies of his 1998 album "400 Degreez," establishing the local Cash Money Records as a major player on the national rap scene.

Jubilee and his local record label, Positive Black Talk Inc., doing business as Take Fo' Records, claimed in a federal lawsuit that Juvenile, Cash Money Records and Cash Money's national corporate partner, Universal Records, violated federal copyright laws by using the Jubilee song "Back That Ass Up" without permission.

But a federal court jury ruled Monday in Juvenile's favor, deciding that the song was his creation and was not cribbed from Jubilee's song. The verdict capped a five-day trial at which both rappers testified. Ultimately, the jury of five men and one woman came down heavily for Juvenile.

Attorney David Patron, representing Juvenile and Cash Money, said the lawsuit had cast his clients as "thieves," but that the jury's verdict vindicated them as "independent, creative artists."

No word yet on how Rick Santorum feels about Backing That Azz Up.

Posted by jsmooth995 at May 6, 2003 4:14 PM

Weblog Archives