Drive-In Music Suing the Shit Out Of Everybody Over the Rights to Forgotten Funk Song
The song “How You Like Me Now?,” by The Heavy has been pretty unavoidable this past year. After knocking David Letterman off his feet with a performance of the tune on the Late Show, the song found its way onto a KIA commercial that premiered at the Super Bowl last year, that quickly found its way into heavy rotation. Recently the song has been featured prominently in the Oscar nominated film “The Fighter,” but from the looks of it, the song seems to be getting the most play in court.
In 1969, funk band Dyke & the Blazers scored a hit with the song “Let a Woman Be a Woman, Let a Man be a Man,” two years before frontman Arlester “Dyke” Christian was shot to death. Since then, the song has been the rights of LA publishing company Drive-In Music, an establishment who has done little to collect royalties from the frequently sampled song. It would seem The Heavy’s most obvious lift from the track on “How You Like Me Now?” has whipped the long-dormant publishing house into action.
In the past six months, Drive-In Music has filed several lawsuits against anyone who has ever used anything from that song in one of their own. Among those served are Beck (sued twice for its use in the song “Jack-Ass”), and a slew of early ’90s rap acts like Above The Law, King Tee, and Leaders Of The New School.
It’s of course Drive-In’s every right to receive royalties from “Let a Woman be a Woman,” but as a sampling enthusiast, I can’t help but feel sorry for the hip hop artists that used it, and also frustrated at The Heavy for interpolating so heavily from the Blazers song (no pun intended).
Because The Heavy flat-out ripped off the “Let a Woman Be a Woman Hook,” and then proceeded to blare the song off every which way they could, those who previously used it in a thick soup of samples are getting in trouble for it two decades later. Going back and listening to all these songs, it’s hard to pick out the Blazers sample among the layering of other samples on the tracks. It’s only fair to sue, but I just don’t like it.
At least Prince isn’t getting sued for using the title phrase in the chorus to “Gett Off.” Featured below are the original song and some of the perpetrators.