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Jay Z Testified In Court for the “Big Pimpin'” Sample Trial
Earlier this year we got confirmation that the eight-year legal saga surrounding Jay Z’s “Big Pimpin'” sample would finally end up in court. Today, both Jay and the song’s producer Timbaland finally appeared in a Los Angeles courtroom as a part of the ongoing copyright trial. At issue in the trial is the alleged misuse of the “Big Pimpin'” sample “Khosara Khosara,” a song released in 1957 by Egyptian composer Baligh Hamdi.
The trial was sparked by a lawsuit filed by Hamdi’s nephew Osama Ahmed Fahmy in 2007, according to the NYDailyNews. Fahmy and his lawyers claim that Jay Z and company didn’t have proper permission to use the sample, an argument that rests on an Egyptian law which suggests the artists needed approval from the composer given the reworking’s “vulgar and demeaning” lyrics, according to Fahmy’s lawyer. Despite this, Jay reportedly referenced his own CD’s liner notes which explicitly credit the “Khosara Khosara” sample, saying, “We have the rights as you can see on the bottom of the CD,” according to Billboard.
During his testimony today, Jay Z claimed ignorance regarding the original sample itself, saying, “[Timbaland] is known for not using samples. I didn’t think there was a sample in it at all.” He also said, “Timbaland presented me with a track, and I thought it was a track Timbaland created.” Jay Z also reportedly recalled originally hearing the beat, claiming that he nearly walked out on the studio session in which Timbo showed him the track. As for the copyright issue itself, Jay admitted that he thought the issue was already settled. “At some point there was a claim for it, and it was cleared up,” he said. “The rights were granted…we have a license to use the song.”