Back in 2009 when King Kendrick was officially making the switch from K Dot to Kendrick Lamar, he had a song called “I Do This,” which prominently sampled Bill Withers’ 1975 song “Don’t You Want To Stay.” Kendrick placed that song on the Kendrick Lamar EP and it was one of the reasons why he began to generate some buzz for his Top Dawg full-length debut Section.80 in 2011. Rappers have uncleared samples go unnoticed on mixtapes all the time, but Kendrick Lamar is more than just a rapper at this point.
Now the Compton MC is being sued by Mattie Music Group, the company that claims ownership of Bill Withers’ “Don’t You Want to Stay,” because Kendrick didn’t get permission to sample the song. According to TMZ, legal documents filed by the company say Kendrick’s 2009 track is a complete replica of “Don’t You Want To Stay” — to the point it “consists of nothing more than new rap and hip hop lyrics set to the existing music of “Don’t You Want To Stay.” That statement is incorrect because there is obviously added production, and it would have to sample more than the opening and early bars to be an “exact replica,” but Mattie Music is suing for damages and wants Kendrick to stop using the Withers song.
Clearly MMG isn’t familiar with how sampling works, and since Kendrick didn’t stand to make money from the sample by making the EP available for free download, there isn’t much of a case here. Listen to the tracks below.