It’s been awhile since Chancelor Bennett has had to weather negative press. The 23-year-old artist better known to the world as Chance The Rapper has appropriately basked in positive praise since breaking into the big-time, but this week he’s dealing with something a bit less happy as sources confirmed today he was facing a lawsuit over sampling on his 2011 song “Windows” off his debut mixtape, 10 Day.
The lawsuit was filed in New York by jazz artist Abdul Wali Muhammed who claimed that “Windows” sampled a “significant portion” of his own copyrighted song, “Bridge Through Time”. Muhammed served as composer for the 1980 recording by Lonnie Liston on Columbia Records and now works as an attorney in New York City. Lawyers for Muhammed allegedly reached out on the matter to Chance’s team in May without getting a response, prompting the lawsuit.
Chance’s 10 Day project has never officially been sold by the artist. A free mixtape that was conceived while serving a high school suspension, the music was found by others through free hand-to-hand distribution at schools, parties and concerts and by sharing through social media and Soundcloud. Several times over the last few years versions of 10 Day and his 2013 project Acid Rap, both which have been released for free have been bootlegged for sales. At one point, a bootleg version of Acid Rap made it onto the Billboard charts after being registered online mysteriously in Europe. Earlier this year, 10 Day ended up on iTunes which prompted Chance to tweet at the time: “10day was fraudulently put on iTunes and applemusic. It’ll be down shortly. 10day and acid rap will always be inclusive, elusive and free.”
The complaint describes Muhammad, formerly known as Eric P. Saunders, as a jazz musician, composer and bandleader who has performed with several musicians and who has scored for television. He now practices criminal and civil rights law in New York.
I’m sure this will clear itself up, but it certainly speaks to the newfound levels that have been added to an already exhausting and complicated process of sampling music in the digital era.