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Beastie Boys Hit With New Lawsuit Just Before Adam Yauch’s Death

Beastie Boys
Evan Agostini, Getty Images

Most hip-hop fans are probably aware of the way early records made liberal use of samples — until a wave of copyright lawsuits changed everything in the late ’80s, right around the time the Beastie Boys‘ groundbreaking, sample-heavy second album ‘Paul’s Boutique’ was released. What they may not realize, however, is that those lawsuits are still going on; in fact, a new one was filed just last week — two days before Beastie Boy Adam “MCA” Yauch passed away.

The latest legal complaint actually reaches back further than ‘Paul’s Boutique’: record label Tuf America is alleging that the Beasties illegally sampled from its catalog on four songs, split evenly between ‘Boutique’ and its chart-topping predecessor, ‘Licensed to Ill.’ The tracks in question — ‘Shadrach,’ ‘Car Thief, ‘Hold It, Now Hit It’ and ‘The New Style’ — allegedly contain uncleared elements of Trouble Funk’s ‘Say What’ and ‘Drop the Bomb.’

Tuf America has been criticized for the timing of its lawsuit, which is understandable — but to be fair, it isn’t their fault Yauch passed away, and like the rest of us, they had no way of knowing the real extent of his ill health. The label’s attorney admitted as much in a public statement, saying, “I was very sorry to hear of Adam Yauch’s untimely passing, and can assure you that the unfortunate timing of the filing of Tuf America’s complaint had nothing to do with his health. On behalf of myself and Tuf America, I offer our condolences to Adam’s family, friends and fans.”

The latest round in the sample wars will play out in the courts in due time. Meanwhile, the best thing we can do is put ‘Licensed to Ill’ and ‘Paul’s Boutique’ on repeat.

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