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Is The 'Harlem Shake' A Ripoff?

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Would you believe that the Harlem Shake — the song featuring the most generic beat and leads into the exact same drop you've heard in literally every dubstep song of all time — might not be entirely original? Yes, the two vocal tracks in the song are NOT Harlem Shake writer, Baauer, but are instead sampled from pre-existing tracks.


baauer harlem shake
Would we really call Baauer the WRITER of the Harlem Shake? Maybe the creator? Curator? Vessel through which the great creative energy passes? Literally any one of us if we had a Macbook and Garageband?
(source)

Indeed, Baauer sampled vocals from music artists Hector Delgado, the "Con los terrorists" voice, and Jayson Musson, whose voice demands you do the Harlem Shake.

Both of them stand to make a solid chunk of money, as the Harlem Shake has spent three weeks on top of the Billboard Hot 100. The sales for the track have been huge, despite the fact that everyone in the world seems to hate it.


office space computer attack
If the internet is just going to be Harlem Shake videos, then the internet has to go.
(source)

Yeller of "con los terristas", Hector Delgado, has taken a hard stance against Baauer's label, Mad Decent. His manager, Javier Gomez, said "We can turn around and stop that song. That’s a clear breaking of intellectual property right."

Meanwhile, the guy who actually said the words "Harlem Shake" has been pretty chill about the whole thing, publicly thanking Mad Decent for "doing something useful with our annoying music."


gas station robbery
"I just want to thank that robber for doing something useful with our annoying merchandise."
(source)

So why is Baauer's label so quick to work with one of the sampled artists and not the other? The fact that Musson has been cool about the process — as opposed to Delgado, who's reacted more antagonistically — could be one reason, a lesson about how being nice and working with people will reap rewards.

But I suspect the real reason is the song that the "Harlem Shake" line comes from, "Miller Time", is f*cking great. For real, I listened to this track for like a straight hour yesterday. It is so dope.



Like, this song is so dope that I don't even feel stupid saying the word "dope".

Is sampling an example of fair use, as outlined in the Copyright Act of 1976, 17 U.S.C. § 107? Let me know on twitter @mikeyfromsu or in the comments below!



Check out 25 Best 'Harlem Shake' Videos (So Far)!

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