Eagles co-frontman Don Henley is on a mission.
According a piece put together by Consequence of Sound, Henley has been threatening with lawsuits to both Frank Ocean and folk band Okkervil River (great band, if you’ve never checked them out).
The threat of Ocean comes from the Eagles’ smash hit “Hotel California”. If you’ve lived under a rock for most of your life and never heard it, this is the song:
The song in question is Ocean’s “American Wedding” from his nostalgia, ULTRA mixtape. What most in the hip hop industry would simply cite as a “sample”, something used by most, if not all notable hip hop producers, Henley is calling plagiarism.
“Anyone who knows anything should know you cannot take a master track of a recording and write another song over the top of it. You just can’t do that … [But Ocean] was quite arrogant about it.” (-via CoS)
Here is Ocean’s version:
Ocean heard the comments, and quickly responded in a very “I’m young and you’re clearly old and rich” kind of way. It was wonderful.
“DON HENLEY IS APPARENTLY INTIMIDATED BY MY RENDITION OF HOTEL CALIFORNIA…,” Ocean wrote on his Tumblr when Henely first threatened suit in 2012. “He threatened to sue if I perform it again. I think that’s fuckin awesome.” He added, “Ain’t this guy rich as fuck?” (-again, via CoS)
Ultimately, that’s what this really comes down to. The debate of stealing one’s music and using it as a sample is at such a fine line in the day and age, that’s it’s really hard to distinguish the difference between the two. Especially in hip hop.
It also comes down to, as I mentioned earlier, young vs. old. The idea of Kanye “sampling” back in 1969 probably wouldn’t have gotten him anywhere. He would have been seen as a thief. A creative thief, yes, but a thief nonetheless. That’s what’s going on here.
I understand that this particular track has very little alteration, but in a way, isn’t that better? Audiences recognize the Eagles’ big hit right away. Ocean clearly wasn’t trying to hide anything when it comes to this song. Still, Don Henley isn’t happy about it. It’s easy to understand his position, but as a hip hop fan, and a huge fan of sampling, I find the “battle” pretty funny. I wish they had Twitter. A Twitter war would be pretty great.