Egyptian composer heir takes on Jay Z in ‘Big Pimpin’ trial
The heir of an Egyptian composer will take on Jay Z in U.S. court, saying the rapper had no right to use a flute sample in hip-hop classic “Big Pimpin.’”
Court documents this week set Oct. 13 for a jury trial in Los Angeles against the rap mogul, the latest twist in a long-running copyright saga over the 1999 song which extols the “pimpin’” life of casual sex.
The track opens with a Middle Eastern-sounding flute as Jay Z declares, “It’s big pimpin’, baby,” and the sample duels with the beat throughout the song.
The flute sample turned out to be composed in 1957 by Baligh Hamdy for the Egyptian movie “Khosara, Khosara.”
“Big Pimpin’” producer Timbal- and has said he found the Egyptian song without any identification on a CD and that he believed it was in the public domain.
Jay Z’s side quickly tried to defuse the controversy when, in 2001, it paid US$100,000 to the label EMI Arabia, which said it had rights over “Khosara, Khosara.” The label shared the payout with descendants of Hamdy, who died in 1993.
But the composer’s nephew and heir Osama Ahmed Fahmy filed a lawsuit in U.S. court in 2007 saying that the deal was irrelevant under Egyptian law.
“Khosara, Khosara” is “culturally significant” in Egypt and local law at the time gave no “blanket license to make derivative works that alter or add to the copyright,” the lawsuit said.