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Cypress Hill Sued for $29M Over ‘Black Sunday’ Sample

Legendary soul singer Syl Johnson is suing Cypress Hill for their usage of his 1969 classic ‘Is It Because I’m Black.’ The song in question, ‘Lock Down’ from Cypress Hill’s 1993 sophomore release ‘Black Sunday,’ is an interlude that clocks in at 1:14 and will cost the rap group and associated record and publishing companies a total of $29 million should Johnson win the case. Go here to compare the songs.

Unfortunately for Cypress Hill, sampling became legally recognized as copyright infringement in 1991, so the group will likely have to settle. It is not known at this time whether any of the other artists who have used the same loop (no Preme, we’re not violatin’) are involved in the suit.

Syl Johnson is probably best known for his work with Willie Mitchell on Hi Records, which included hits ‘Take Me to the River,’ ‘Back for a Taste of Your Love,’ and ‘I Hate I Walked Away.’ His last hit record was ‘Ms. Fine Brown Frame’ in 1982, after which point he left music to run a chain of fich restaurants in Chicago. He is one of the true greats and has released a ton of classic material, so we’re all for him making his money, we just wish it were coming from the labels that likely own his masters, rather than his fellow musicians.

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