Macklemore and Ryan Lewis and their hit ‘Thrift Shop” have nothing to fear from “legendary jazz musician” Paul Batiste’s latest lawsuit.
New Orleans jazzer Paul Batiste is evidently suing Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, claiming he hears his own work in their hit song “Thrift Shop.” So of course, I was anxious to see if there was anything to it. And after some careful listening to Batiste’s “Hip Jazz” and “World of Blues,” no, there’s was no “Thrift Shop” to be found there. None.
See for yourself if you like… watch out for bad words.
That youtube video has over a billion views by the way.
And here are a couple of Paul Batiste tunes that Mr. Batiste believes influenced Macklemore and Lewis.
There wasn’t enough musicology there to even bother with. In fact, my initial opinion is that Batiste’s tracks contain relatively little protectable IP at all. And nothing significantly similar to either of them can be found in ‘Thrift Shop.” Not easily anyway.
So I had to wonder, who wrote the complaint? Was a musicologist engaged who said, “Yes, let’s go ahead with this?” I’m incredulous.
The Vagaries of the Complaint
Then I got a hold of the actual complaint, which you can check out for yourself. You’ll find no musicology anywhere in it. There is no mention of notes, phrases, or sections from the allegedly infringed works. It’s broad to say the least. I might paraphrase the complaint as reading, “They misappropriated all kinds of stuff of ours.”
They use the term “sample” here and there, often oddly. As in:
"Defendants, without authority have willfully copied and digitally sampled many protected elements of the Plaintiff’s copyrights..."
They’ve sampled elements of the copyrights?
Unremarkable synthesizer and drum machine sounds are the signature of the Batiste records — not the sort of things one typically samples.
Five minute experiment to recreate the signature sax line.
Consider this also… you can’t find the Thrift Shop sax line in the allegedly infringed tracks. In fact, there isn’t an isolated sax note anywhere in the allegedly infringed tracks. But I produced the sax line in five minutes in my own studio using a stock sax patch that is included in Apple’s Logic Pro software. I’d say there’s a pretty good chance it’s the same tool Lewis himself employed.
So, I ask you, if I can get that in five minutes, what would motivate me to sample and manipulate into unrecognizability someone’s sax sample?
So to sum up. In my opinion, there’s nothing sampled; no similar melodies; no similar accompaniments; no apparent influence nor inspiration; nothing of note whatsoever, except that someone bothered to file the complaint in the first place. That is fascinating.