Jay Z's Egyptian Legal Troubles Over 'Big Pimpin' Sample

The battle over whether Jay Z's use of an Egyptian song by Abdel Halim Hafez in "Big Pimpin'" violates Egyptian moral rights heads to trial.

Jay Z and Abdel Halim Hafez

In 1999 Jay Z sampled Egyptian singer Abdel Halim Hafez on "Big Pimpin'," the fifth single off his fourth album, Vol. 3... Life and Times of S. Carter (2000). The track, which would go on to become one of Rolling Stones' 500 Greatest Songs Of All Time, pulls its unmistakable hook from "Khosara Khosara," a song originally written by Egyptian composer Baligh Hamdi before Hafez recorded it in 1960 to feature in the film Fata Ahlam.

At the time of recording "Big Pimpin'," Jay Z and the song's producer, Timbaland, were granted permission to use the sample by EMI Arabia, who had previously obtained the rights to "Khosara Khosara" from another Egyptian label. In 2007 though, Baligh Hamdi's heir, Osama Ahmed Fahmy, claimed EMI did not in fact have the right to sublicense the song. Thus began a long, complex legal battle, which, in addition to the matter of copyright issues, also took on a complicated cultural dimension.

Fahmy's lawsuit argues that the way in which Jay Z and Timbaland reused "Khosara Khosara" was offensive, and violated the composer's "moral rights" under Egyptian law. "They used it with a song that even by Jay Z’s own admission is very vulgar and base,” Fahmy’s lawyer, Keith Wesley, told The Guardian. “That’s really why this is so significant to my client. They not only took music without paying. They’re using it in a song that is, frankly, disgusting.”

Now, eight years after the drama with Fahmy and co-defendants Jay Z and Timbaland (as well as Paramount Pictures, Warner Music, UMG and MTV) first began, the legal battle will finally head to trial. According to Hollywood Reporter, on March 30, 2015, a federal judge in California agreed the terms of the licensing agreements present triable issues. "I think this case really has to head toward some form of resolution sooner rather than later," the judge, Christina Snyder, said in court. "I think the only answer is to march toward trial," Wesley noted. The case is indeed now slated for trial on October 13. Hear Abdel Halim Hafez's original and Jay Z's "Big Pimpin'" below.

Photo credits: Deeds Art

Tems Is Just Doing Her Thang In New Music Video 'Crazy Tings'

The Nigerian songstress is hell bent on taking over your summer playlist and it's getting harder to resist.

It has been a fantastic year for Tems. The Nigerian singer, producer, and songwriter achieved a platinum record for eternal banger Essence, her collaboration with fellow Nigerian superstar Wizkid, an MTV EMA nomination for Best African Artist, a billion worldwide video views, and over 350 million audio streams. Not to mention featuring on Canadian rapper Drake's blowout album Certified Lover Boy, the singer has also sold out every show she's booked.

The release of Tems's sophomore EP If Orange Was a Place solidified her place amongst the greats and it was received with gusto by fans and international audiences. A month after the release the Afrobeats singer has graced fans with a sultry music video to go along with equally as tantalizing lead single Crazy Tings. Conceptualized by the multitalented Tems, and directed by UAX, the music video follows a sensual Tems as she sings about needing space from a lying partner.

International audiences continue to rave over the songstress, with Tems delivering an impressive US TV debut on late-night talk show Jimmy Kimmel Live! this month. Essence continues to top international charts. While becoming the official song of the summer, the track peaked on the Billboard 100 Top 10, becoming the most Shazamed song in the United States and was remixed by Canadian musical heavyweight Justin Bieber, becoming the first song written by Nigerian artists to hit No.1 on Urban Radio.

Tems has been producing consistent hits since her debut in September 2020, and a year later, the singer's immense talent is securing her reputation as a world-class superstar.

Check out Tem's music video for single 'Crazy Tings' below

Tems - Crazy Tings (Official Video)

get okayafrica in your inbox


Eswatini Is Trying To Dethrone Africa's Last Standing King

Africa's last absolute monarchy is being challenged by pro-democracy protests and an army of youths ready to fight back.