For years now, Freeway Rick Ross, the real life drug dealer upon whom rapper Rick Ross bases his stage persona and kingpin image, has been trying to nail Ross (the latter) for making millions by selling his music under an appropriated drug lord persona. Last week, a California judge dismissed Freeway Rick’s most recent appeal, citing the rapper’s creation of original works that only used the name as a jumping-off point. Freeway Rick was not amused.
In a statement issued following the judge’s rejection of his appeal, the real Freeway Rick Ross remarked: “There is a teachable moment about the state of our community when a man who has a respectable job as a correctional officer, has to recreate himself in my former image as a large-scale kingpin to gain what he feels is social acceptance as a successful man.” Though Freeway Rick’s indignation does have a point here, he misunderstands Ross’ motivations. Ross was never thinking about perceived social acceptance as a successful man. He was thinking about actual success. And he actually achieved it by making insane amounts of money because he understands the fan inclination to want to believe that artists’ music reflects a truthful depiction of their lives.
Hip-hop culture has always been based on the appropriation and re-interpretation of communal objects from the past. It’s called sampling. And hip-hop artists have been doing it in with their stage personas forever, pretending to be harder and more dangerous than they actually are. So when Ross took on the symbolic identity of a historical drug dealer, he was doing just that: “sampling” someone else’s life and then turning it into something new. And that is exactly why Rick Ross’ recent lawsuit against LMFAO for interpolating the lyric “Every day I’m hustlin” from his 2006 song “Hustlin” is so ironic, because when LMFAO jokingly altered that line, they were doing the exact same thing. Though Ross’ lawsuit states that LMFAO’s similar lyric is “an obvious attempt to capitalize on the fame and success of “Hustlin,” the reality of the situation is a bit more nuanced.
You just can’t have a bit of success anymore without someone suing you. Rick Ross and and Jermaine Jackson have filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against LMFAO over similarities between the band’s “Party Rock Anthem” lyrics and Ross’ song, “Everyday I’m Hustling.”
A lawsuit filed in Florida federal court states, “The use of Hustlin’ in ‘Party Rock Anthem’ is readily apparent, despite the slight change from ‘Everyday I’m hustlin’ ¦’ to ‘Everyday I’m shufflin’¦” and constitutes, inter alia, the creation of an unauthorized derivative work.” The lawsuit goes on, “The phrase is so important to the success of ‘Party Rock Anthem,’ that LMFAO launched a highly successful clothing line, Party Rock Clothing, that features the phrase on T-shirts and other clothing items.”
Being in one of the most successful and popular pop music duos in decades must be a rough life, right? I mean, one look at the legacy of LMFAO singles and it’s clear these guys have lived a life of struggle and hard earned success. “Shots,” “Party Rock,” and of course, “I’m In Miami Trick,” all convey relatable tales of the working man rising above the daily grind to achieve better things.
Just kidding. These guys love to party and we all know it, so it should come as no surprise that their solo albums are showcasing much of the same.
Last week we brought you the debut of “Bring Out The Bottle,” the debut solo single from LMFAO’s Redfoo, and this week we have the first track from the other have of the group, SkyBlu. His single, coincidentally entitled “Pop Bottles,” carries a similar party heavy vibe as Redfoo’s and features a guest appearance from Mark Rosas. You can stream the song below.
While some fans may have worried the hiatus of LMFAO meant the duo would be heading in separate sonic directions, the debut singles from Redfoo and SkyBlu tell a very different story. If anything, it looks like we’re in for even more party anthems in 2013 as a result of the members working individually. Stay tuned for more information on their solo careers in the coming weeks.
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