Soul singer Ernie Hines is suing Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter and Timothy “Timbaland” Mosley for copyright infringement over their use of his 1970 single “Help Me Put Out the Flame (In My Heart)” on two separate songs released in the late 1990s, documents filed in U.S. District Court in New York show.
The songs in question are “Paper Chase” from Jay-Z’s 1998 album Vol. 2… Hard Knock Life and “Toe 2 Toe” from the 1999 album 100% Ginuwine by Ginuwine, both of which feature a sample of “Help Me,” which Hines co-wrote and composed. Jay-Z had no involvement in “Toe 2 Toe.”
In his suit, filed on May 18, Hines claims the sample in both cases was used without his consent and with no financial benefit to him. He further alleges the infringement was “willful,” pointing out as evidence the credits for “Paper Chase” on Jay-Z’s streaming service TIDAL, which he says clearly list the “Help Me” sample.
Hines also alleges conversion, which the suit states “may be predicated upon a defendant’s wrongful dominion over plaintiff’s tangible or intangible personal property.”
Hines is asking for a dollar amount “to be determined by the Court,” which he estimates exceeds $2 million, along with interest, attorneys fees and other relief the court “deems just and equitable.”
Also named as defendants in the suit are Jay-Z’s Roc-A-Fella Records, Def Jam Recordings and Universal Music Group (the labels behind “Paper Chase”) and Sony Music Holdings, which released “Toe 2 Toe.” Both songs were composed and produced by Timbaland, who also co-wrote “Paper Chase” with Jay-Z. Ginuwine — a.k.a. Elgin Lumpkin — is not named as a defendant.
Though both “Paper Chase” and “Toe 2 Toe” were released over two decades ago, the suit claims that as a senior citizen, Hines — now 81 years old — “doesn’t listen to rap music and was therefore unaware” that “Help Me” was sampled in either song until last year.
Vol. 2… A Hard Knock Life is Jay-Z’s best-selling album with more than 5 million copies sold in the U.S. Ginuwine sold over 2 million copies in the U.S.
According to his official website, Hines started as a gospel singer and later played guitar for acts including Joe Valentine’s R&B Pop Band, Big Joe Turner and Lowell Fulsom. In 1970 he was signed to Stax Records, which released five of his singles (including “Help Me”) and one album, 1972’s Electrified, under their We Produce banner. His 1971 single “Our Generation” was covered by John Legend and The Roots in 2010.