Mac Miller v. Lord Finesse Could Change Hip Hop ForeverJuly 13th, 2012
By Dan Reagans
Some of you might not know who legendary producer/MC Lord Finesse is, but he’s one of the founding members of the early ’90s rap coalition D.I.T.C. and the man credited for bringing iconic Harlem wordsmith Big L to the game. As a prominent figure in the underground NY rap scene, Finesse has also helped launch the careers of Bronx-bred Terror Squad leader Fat Joe and others. But just like the Lord giveth, the lord taketh. The rap vet has recently made a declaration of legal war against young star Mac Miller that could potentially change the mixtape game forever.
In 2010, the Pittsburgh rap upstart sampled Finesse’s “Hip 2 Da Game” for his standout mixtape K.I.D.S. (Kickin’ Incredibly Dope S–t), which eventually went on to help propel him into the hip hop spotlight and land a No. 1 album on the Billboard charts with his debut, Blue Slide Park. Mixtapes have become a pillar of creativity and a key factor in helping artists showcase versatility and skill. Sampling and beat jacking has been somewhat the norm over the years.
Some might argue that since mixtapes aren’t distributed for retail, Finesse’s case may be invalid. They’d better think again. Although Mac never gained a dollar off the actual project, he did benefit from it indirectly by securing shows and tours. If the hailed beatsmith can setup a strong argument proving this, he might pull off a victory and all may be lost for the mixtape game as we know it.
Case in point: Rock group The Eagles threatened to take legal action against R&B crooner Frank Ocean for his sampling of their song “Hotel California” on his mixtape cut “American Wedding.” The legendary rock band legally blocked him from performing the song live.
On the flip side, some may feel this legal issue will help concentrate the over-saturation of music that has flooded the hip hop industry via the mixtape circuit. While we all love free stuff, too much of anything can be detrimental to your health…or ears. In recent years, trying to digest the large quantity of music that’s been released has become a full time job and some may feel regulation might be in order. So while the case is still pending a legal outcome, we’ll all have to wait and see if the way today’s MCs pay homage and pay bills will drastically change.