Mac Miller's meteoric rise to the top of the Billboard charts was largely fueled by mixtapes on internet buzz, but one vet of the rap game is not happy with how it happened.
Lord Finesse -- part of the 1990s hip hop crew D.I.T.C. which also featured the likes of Big L and Fat Joe, among others -- is planning to sue the 20-year-old Miller for $10 million over a sample Miller used on his 2010 mixtape K.I.D.S. in a suit that could have wide-ranging implications for hip-hop's mixtape culture.
In the suit, Finesse claims that Miller sampled his 1995 track "Hip 2 Da Game" off his The Awakening album -- which Miller fully admits to -- to record the track "Kool Aid and Frozen Pizza," for which he later shot a music video that significantly boosted his online notoriety. The suit names Miller, label Rostrum Records (Benjy Grinberg's indie vehicle which also boasts Wiz Khalifa on its roster) and mixtape distribution website Datpiff.com, which released K.I.D.S., Miller's 2012 tape Macadelic, as well as mixtapes by Khalifa, Meek Mill, and Rick Ross, among others. It also claims that K.I.D.S. was downloaded over 500,000 times and streamed over 450,000 times.
The lawsuit, which came to light yesterday (July 10), has set off a bit of a Twitter war between the two, with both addressing the suit and each other, though indirectly. Miller claimed that he was merely paying homage, and that he and Finesse had spoken about the song for an hour after it came out and "cleared the air," and tried to solve the issue immediately. Finesse then responded, trying to clarify his point by saying "Mixtapes are one thing, but you can't take someone's else's entire song, shoot a music video and call it your own."
The issue speaks to a larger point, as mixtapes, remixes and freestyles over popular and classic tracks are deeply ingrained in the daily cycle of hip hop, and if the lawsuit is to go Finesse's way, could have long-ranging implications as to how up and coming rappers can forge their way through the competitive landscape without getting sued. It also brings up the issue of sampling, which is a major part of how hip hop got its start, with artists rapping over old soul and funk instrumental tracks. Miller even pointed out via his Twitter that Finesse had "never cleared the Oscar Peterson sample on the original record."
Finesse wrote on Twitter yesterday, "This case is about the overall picture.. If you're just looking at "one" point.. It's about so much more #look deeper.." and pointed out that YouTube made money on the ads for the video, and Miller used it to launch his career, which hit a high point when his debut album Blue Slide Park became the first independently-distributed debut since 1995 to debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200.
According to Miller's Twitter, the two spoke on the phone yesterday in an attempt to clear the air, but Finesse is still suing him, while the elder rapper took to the medium to say, "Wow.. Mac. We spoke trying to resolve the situation. Next thing you back on Twitter.. wow.."