Montreal Rapper Jonathan Emile Wins Court Case Against Kendrick Lamar's Top Dawg Entertainment
Published Nov 22, 2016Last year, Montreal rapper Jonathan Emile hit a major roadblock with his Kendrick Lamar-featuring song "Heaven Help Dem." Following its release, the track fell victim to copyright takedown notices and was effectively stripped from sites like YouTube and SoundCloud, leading Emile to sue not only Lamar's Top Dawg Entertainment but distributors Interscope and Universal Music Group — a case the Canadian has now won.
As Billboard reports, Emile won his small claims case last month and was awarded $8,600 plus five percent interest due to Top Dawg wrongfully blocking the release of the song.
Apparently, the collaboration came from Emile and his manager cold calling Lamar.
"We sent him an email outlining what we wanted to do and they got us on the phone and said they were feeling it and that they would go ahead and do the song," Emile told Billboard. "We paid Kendrick Lamar for a feature, and once we paid them, they basically stopped communicating with us altogether. It was understood that we'd take care of the paperwork with the lawyers, so we paid them and they basically disappeared... we couldn't get in contact, so I just continued producing my album [The Lover/Fighter Document], and with the verbal agreement we had, and we put out the song in 2015."
However, after the song was released, the situation soon soured.
"After the song was put out, they placed a false copyright claim on the song itself and got it pulled from YouTube and SoundCloud and all that stuff," Emile said. "So, after going back and forth with these companies, they realized that they were in error and that there was no copyright claim on the song, but the damage had already been done and the momentum to promote the song had already been [lost].
"So on the advice of my lawyers, we took them to small claims — to make a statement more than anything — and to show that what was done was not right and to clear my name, in terms of a lot of folks really did think that the verse was stolen and it's not legitimate. We did what we had to do to get the judgment."
While Emile got his winning judgement last month, he did not announce it to the media.
"It was just picked up because it was looked at by different lawyers as an atypical case," Emile said. "At this point, I'm not trying to draw attention to that particular track. I'm tying to move forward. I've put out many tracks since then and I have an album coming out either in December or January. We're finalizing the marketing campaign."
Emile will do just that with his upcoming album Phantom Pain, which he's now eying the release of.