Last summer Portishead’s Geoff Barrow went on the warpath against the Weeknd after the Weeknd’s song “Belong To The World” appeared to sample Portishead’s “Machine Gun.” Barrow (pictured) claimed that the Weeknd had requested permission to sample “Machine Gun” and that Portishead had denied that permission, while the Weeknd’s Abel Tesfaye told an interviewer that “Belong To The World” was merely inspired by Portishead. Now, nearly a year later, Barrow has rekindled the feud by producing the alleged letter requesting permission to sample the song. As Pitchfork points out, Barrow posted the letter to Twitter this morning:
— Geoff Barrow (@jetfury) May 5, 2014
Assuming this letter is real — and there’s little reason to believe it’s fake — it doesn’t necessarily prove that the Weeknd unlawfully sampled Portishead, only that Tesfaye requested permission to use the sample. He may well have created a reasonable facsimile of the “Machine Gun” drum sound rather than directly sampling it. Either way, I’m utterly curious about what kind of behind-the-scenes action caused Barrow to bring this conflict back into the public eye today. Here are the two songs again for your careful examination. Skip ahead to about 2:36 in the “Belong To The World” video to hear the disputed drum sound.
[Photo by Felix Kunze/Getty Images.]