Music plagiarism happens regularly and has become an issue over the last decade or so. Every so often we hear a song that hits number 1 in the charts and find out later that it follows the same rhythm or tune as another.
Childish Gambino is the latest to be questioned about the originality of one of his songs. The Viral hit “This is America” took the internet by storm in May, but has now come under fire for allegedly copying another song. American rapper Jase Harley released a song called “American Pharoah” in 2016 which sounds very similar to Gambino’s hit.
Here are both songs to help you make up your own mind:
There are definitely similarities in both songs. The rhythm and the style of how both artists rap is almost the same aswell. Jase Harley took to instagram about the situation and said:
“I feel extremely humbled to be recognised and labelled as one of, or the original inspiration, for one of the most important pieces of music and visual art of our time,” he posted.
“I appreciate all the love and support! But PLEASE DON’T let this controversy dilute the message me and @childishgambinoare trying to convey.
“We are speaking about injustices we’ve encountered and he’s helped to provide a platform for all our voices to be heard. Let’s not discredit him for that!
“The focus should be on affecting change in our communities and building equality. This is bigger than me and him and bigger than music. Let’s not lose focus.”
He doesn’t seem to upset about his song possibly being copied by another artist who has had much more success.
Childish Gambino’s manager, Fam Rothstein sent a tweet denying the claims, which he later deleted.
“The internet is a place of no consequences,” he said. “This song is three years old and we have Pro Tools files to prove it.”
It seems that this will end peacefully and with no legal action, which is more than can be said for other hit songs in the past.
One of the most famous situations was when Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” became a worldwide hit in 2013. It was accused of sounding very much like Marvin Gayes “Got to Give it up”. Marvin Gayes family decided to take legal action against Thicke. They won and Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke had to pay almost $7.4 million to Marvin Gayes estate.
Have a listen to the similarities here:
Ed Sheeran has been prone to a few lawsuits for his songs too. He has been sued over Thinking out loud and Shape of you, but his lawsuit over his song Photograph has proved most costly for the singer.
X Factor winner Matt Cardle (remember him?) and his lawyers had filed a lawsuit against Sheeran, stating that Sheerans 2016 hit song “Photograph” sounded very similar to Cardles 2012 song “Amazing”. In fairness, they had a very good case. Have a listen:
Sheeran settled the $20 million lawsuit after being accused of “Unabashedly taking credit for others work” by the songwriters of “Amazing”.
Plagiarism in music occurs much more regularly than many think. Childish Gambino is just one of many who have been accused of stealing parts of other songs for their own benefit. It is just one of those things that happens. There are only a certain amount of pleasant sounding noises that people can put in a certain order, and sometimes it can sound like another tune. As the old cliche goes ‘It is just a part of the business’.