Reference or Plagiarism?

The transgressions of the “do-overs” covered in my recent post about 50 Cent’s mixtape output is even more pronounced when you recognize that the original works aren’t merely sampled but rather stolen outright.

Method Man pays homage to dancehall great Ninjaman in his classic, “Bring The Pain”

To understand this fully, you have to understand the concept of a mixtape as it is understood in the world of hip hop. Specifically, there is a variety of mixtape that features the same rapper over many different producers’ instrumentals (known simply as “beats”) including examples sometimes taken from some previous release by another artist.

“Mek Duppy” by Busy Signal features verses sung to the tune of Lil Wayne’s “Good Kush and Alcohol”

This way of thinking about the rapper or MC’s beat is at play to such an extent in the world of Dancehall reggae, that the backing track (or instrumental), known in Jamaica as a “riddim”, is freely distributed and presented by multiple artists as original material. However, in the United States it is often looked upon with harsh judgement and referred to as “biting”.


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