Earlier this week Lord Finesse filed a lawsuit against Mac Miller for using Finesse’s classic “Hip 2 Da Game” instrumental for his own single “Kool Aid & Frozen Pizza,” off Miller’s K.I.D.S. mixtape. Courthouse News Service broke the story explaining “This is a case about a teenage rapper—Mac Miller—copying the music from a song written, produced and performed by Lord Finesse, a hip hop legend, changing the title and then distributing it under his own name in order to launch his music career.” This statement couldn’t have been more spot on. It seems that even though Mac is claiming, “I made that record and video as nothing more than an 18 year old kid who wanted to rhyme and pay homage, no other intentions.” It doesn’t make much sense that he would decide to release the song on Datpiff without crediting the legendary producer on the tracklist. Although this is the most publicized display of Mac breaking the code, and taking advantage of producers, we felt like it was just for us to expose a few other instances of Mac using the five finger discount on beats.
September 8th, 2010: Outside of NYC venue S.O.B.’s, Mac Miller was approached by a small group of kids who had some questions to ask about the production on Mac’s hit single “La La La La.” When one of the kids asked Mac who created the beat, Mac seemed to have no answer for the kid, who was actually the real producer. “La La La La” ended up being one of Mac Miller’s most poplar songs, as of now having over 10 million views on YouTube. Check out the video below for the encounter, and bear witness to how extremely shook Mac Miller is while handling the accusations.
This record of his history of beat jacking actually goes back even further then 2010, and before Mac’s mainstream success. Before he was Mac Miller young Malcolm McCormick called himself “Easy Mac” and was working with another emcee, Beedie, in a group called The Ill Spoken. The group was shopping for beats for their locally-anticipated mixtape. During the time, Wiz Khalifa had just released “Say Yeah” and was gaining an extreme amount of popularity. Mac, seeing his Taylor Allderdice High School alum doing so well, felt like he could follow in his footsteps…riding his coattails. For the upcoming mixtape the group decided to use a beat from producer Ben Bradley (member of NYC production duo Crakk Nicholson). Ben spoke to us about the events that transpired after the decision to work with Mac on some songs.
“I gave him roughly 30 beats. It was early in his career when I first met him and he was only rapping for six months but was already buying magazine placements. Sometime after I gave him the beats, I heard that they (The Ill Spoken) were going to use one of my beats as the single (“How Sick Am I“) for their mixtape. The single ended up being one of Mac’s first songs that received radio play and actually won a radio contest for what was then 106.7 WAMO. They won a chance to open up for Soulja Boy (who at the time was fresh off his second single “Donk”) as well as a (month or so) span of time where “How Sick Am I” was played regularly. I think it definitely helped him push his career forward. They originally didn’t give me any credit for the production (online or radio), until they put the tape (How High) on iTunes a long while later. Even though they credited me on the tracklist, I still haven’t received any loot for my work. I have no resentment towards him personally, but think he’s wrong for doing this to me, let alone a legend like Finesse. I just know him as a young kid from a really rich neighborhood.”
It seems as though we have a classic case of someone who can’t give credit where credit is due. The story and ethics of Mac Miller are not a new concept to hip-hop. We should be better at realizing real as real, and fake for what it is. The digital trail of e-mails speak for themselves, as do the producers who felt they were wronged. We’ve seen this go on for decades, even outlined in classic songs like Black Star’s “Children’s Story.” The producer, or DJ for that matter may be the most important role in hip-hop—without any instrumentals or loops there would be no rapping. Producers are the sound providers, sound controllers, figures who finesse audio. We, as artists and fans, must respect their role in the culture. Aspiring emcees, please take this as a lesson: you’ll get caught “jackin’ old beats and makin’ the dash…”