Bishop T.D. Jakes, the powerful televangelist behind The Potter’s House in Dallas, has vowed to sue rappers Young Jeezy and Kendrick Lamar for sampling a part of one of his sermons in the Holy Ghost remix.
Unfortunately for Jakes, legal experts don’t believe the lawsuit will hold its own in court.
Jakes took to Facebook to announce that he will be taking legal action against the hip-hop stars as he revealed he did not give the rappers consent to use any portion of his Don’t Let Chatter Stop You speech that he delivered back in 2013.
“The Holy Ghost remix by Jeezy featuring Kendrick Lamar was produced without the knowledge or consent of T.D. Jakes, TDJ Enterprises, Dexterity Music or its associated companies,” the Facebook post explained. “We are taking the necessary legal actions to stop the unauthorized use of T.D. Jakes’ intellectual property.”
The sampled clip features roughly 20 seconds of Jakes’ speech in the very beginning of the track.
“I’m under attack, but I’m still on fire,” Jakes’ powerful voice can be heard saying as a crowd cheers. “I’ve got some chatter, but I’m still on fire. I’ve got some threat, but I’m still on fire. I got some liabilities, but I’m still on fire. It’s not amazing that I’m on fire. I’ve been to hell and back, but I’m still on fire.”
The 57-year-old Grammy-winning evangelical leader certainly doesn’t preach a message that would coincide with some of Jeezy’s lyrics, which could be behind the immediate decision to take legal action.
While no reps for Jakes, Jeezy or Kendrick have commented publicly about the lawsuit, legal experts are not so sure that Jakes has a strong case here.
“This sounds like a strong fair use case,” Los Angeles lawyer Jonathan Kirsch told the Daily News.
According to Kirsch, the 1994 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in favor of the Miami rap group 2 Live Crew could be enough to let Jeezy and Kendrick off the hook.
In that ruling, the judge decided that the group’s sampling of singer Roy Orbison’s Oh, Pretty Woman was fair use for parody purposes.
“Generally speaking, it is ‘fair use,’ in the context of a song, to copy elements of someone else’s work in order to make a point that amounts to commentary,” Kirsch added. “The notion of taking a cultural artifact, like a sermon, and using a small portion to make a comment on the role of religion in peoples’ consciousness is very similar.”
This isn’t the first time a hip-hop star was threatened by legal action for sampling someone’s work.
Former child star Ricky Spicer sued Kanye West, who has become known for his frequent use of samples, after West sampled his voice on Bound 2.
West has faced several other lawsuits throughout his career for his use of samples.
More recently, rapper Drake was sued over the sample he used on Pound Cake/Paris Morton Music 2.
In the beginning of the track, late jazz singer Jimmy Smith can be heard saying, “Only real music is gonna last. All that other bulls**t is here today and gone tomorrow.”
The monologue continues on the track for about 35 seconds.