Apple includes a lot of music references in their new ad for Macbook Air titled “Stickers”: stickers for labels like Warp, Kompakt, DFA, and Stones Throw. But one briefly glimpsed sticker has rapper El-P really angry. According to El, the company has ripped off the Run The Jewels hands graphic that graces the duo’s album cover. He expressed outrage in since-deleted tweets that Chartattack transcribed, saying, “OH COOL APPLE FIGURED OUT A WAY TO NOT PAY RUN THE JEWELS FOR OUR LOGO” and “OH NO IM SURE ITS JUST A COINCIDENCE.” In addition, he has left undeleted his frustrated response to someone telling him to not care.

The image above is the one found in the commercial and below is the Run The Jewels album cover.

Billboard spoke with IP attorney Howell O’Rear who explained that RTJ likely don’t have a case, saying, “From a copyright perspective, the cover art for Run The Jewels and the image used in the Apple advertisement are not the same, nor are they substantially similar.” However it also doesn’t really seem like anyone is looking to sue or anything, El just gave the impression of someone venting. Decide for yourself, and watch the ad and discuss below.

Comments (19)
  1. WTF.

    Like the attorney says, not the same. Like the attorney says, not close.

    If RTJ wants to try and trademark “two (random colored, random textured) disembodied hands doing (random thing),” they’re welcome to try, but I mean, really?

  2. Unless…hey, claiming theft is a good way to get you in Billboard, apparently.

  3. Yeah, RTJ is like, zombie, gold-loving grandma. Apple’s is more goth smurf.

  4. They look nothing alike. Not sure what El-P’s beef is. In fact, it looks like the album cover is probably stolen from and old Scooby Doo carton anyway. lol

  5. Not even close.

  6. I saw some Fools Gold Rec stickers on there too, and I think RTJ is on Fools Gold, so wouldn’t they kind of own at least part of the logo? But then I guess if that was the case at FG gave Apple permission then they would have used the actual logo and not a rip off.

    • Being part of a label doesn’t usually entitle you to rights to the label’s logo unless El is part owner of the label. Actually I think Kanye is an owner. Maybe we should shut up before Yeezy gets all bent.

  7. If anything it’s a rip of the Santa Cruz skateboards screaming hand logo. You can’t see the mouths cause Apple cleverly faced the palms away from the screen.

  8. More stoned vitriol from El-P’s twitter. He’s a wicked good follow 100% of the time.

  9. I don’t know what you all are talking about – the graphics aren’t exactly alike, but they’re close enough and would have me a little pissy if I were in El’s shoes. Not “break out the lawyers” pissy, but definitely “vent on Twitter” pissy.

    And really, it’s not the lack of royalties that would irk me, but the fact that Apple didn’t ask but is clearly trying, in a small, indirect way, to associate themselves with a group they’d have no other association with.

    What other possible purpose would Apple have to use that image? It’s too random to be a coincidence.

      • I guess that’s a solid counterargument, but Hartford is completely right.

        This would be unlikely to hold up in court (not that El-P would be dumb enough to even attempt out-lawyering Apple) but the image is clearly a RTJ reference. I could see if people were saying “RTJ are too obscure for Apple to use” but the fact that the same ad also references Stones Throw makes it obvious that whoever made the ad is a fan.

        Now, whether it’s worth getting mad about is a different question. I would think that a dude like El has an appreciation for the types of referencing and reappropriation that are a cornerstone of hip hop — but it’s a pretty different story when it’s some massive megacorp using other people’s indie cred to sell $1000 laptops.

        It’s actually kind of amazing that people are calling it a coincidence. People on this site really like to pick one POV and pile on with it, regardless of what is obviously true.

  10. good luck with. i think these guys have a much stronger claim

  11. “with that”

  12. As long as they’re not literally portraying themselves running off with the jewels, then no.

  13. Mos def the Santa Cruz ripoff more than the RTJ graphic. The spikes bring it a bit closer to RTJ’s side and I can respect El’s ire, but c’mon – I think one of the screaming hands chipped it’s tooth consuming an Apple!

  14. also neither of these illustrations are great, the apple one is particularly bad. Plagerism aside, you’d think Apple could afford to hire a decent illustrator at least

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