This week, a Los Angeles jury determined that Robin Thicke’s pop smash “Blurred Lines,” co-wrote and produced by Pharrell Williams, copied elements of Marvin Gaye’s 1977 hit “Got to Give It Up.” Given the tremendous success of the song, Williams and Thicke are ordered to pay $7.4 million to the Marvin Gaye estate. Although they each made about $5 million off the Blurred Lines single—and the label reportedly receiving $6 million, as well as an extra $8 million in publishing revenue—the verdict has made songwriters and music producers nervous about the line between inspiration and plagiarism. One of them is the Grammy Award-winning producer Jermaine Dupri.
During an interview with the Associated Press, Dupri talked about how he understood both sides of the “Blurred Lines” verdict. Dupri, who is responsible for the career successes of Mariah Carey and Usher, remembers getting influenced by other records when he was building his name at the time. "Younger producers like myself and Pharrell, we make records that are influenced by other records that are out there," he tells AP on Thursday. "That's how hip-hop has always been created — it has some kind of element of something [from] the past. Or sometimes we just take the entire sample and we give the artist the credit for that sample." He added, "We've all been in a position where it could go like this or we can give the producer the credit.”
Dupri claims he is 50/50 on the decision, but also reveals he is currently in a similar situation with Ciara. The singer’s latest song promoting her Jackie album, “I Bet,” contains familiar vibes to Usher’s 2001 hit “U Got It Bad,” which Dupri is credited as a co-producer.
"Ciara's new single is a complete rip-off of Usher's 'U Got It Bad,'" he said. "I'm clear on what I made and I'm clear on how music influences people and I'm clear on chord changes and how people move things. ... It might not be as evident as the 'Blurred Lines' situation, but I believe the same thing happened to me."
According to Dupri, he plans to contact Ciara and the producers of “I Bet” to ask if he, Usher and producer Bryan-Michael Cox get properly credited. Representatives for Ciara and her label haven’t commented on Dupri’s accusation.
For comparison's sake, listen to "U Got It Bad" and "I Bet" below.