Jay Z has appeared on stages worldwide, but his latest appearance was in front of a jury in a federal courtroom in Los Angeles on Wednesday to testify in a trial surrounding copyright infringement over “Big Pimpin’.”
The Roc Nation mogul and Timbaland are being sued by the heirs of Baligh Hamdi, an Egyptian composer who created the 1957 song “Khosara Khosara” that contains elements of the 1999 hit.
According to the AP, Jay Z spent 90 minutes recounting his life, successes, and the creative process that led him and Timbaland to create “Big Pimpin’,” his first major hit single.
Jay Z brought out a physical copy of his 1999 album Vol. 3… Life and Times of S. Carter to prove his point. “We have the rights as you can see on the bottom of the CD,” he told jurors, pointing to liner notes that credit “Khosara Khosara.”
At one point, the court erupted in laughter when Jay Z was asked by his attorney about some of the artists he helped develop including Rihanna, J. Cole, and Kanye West.
“Some people may have heard of him,” his attorney Andrew Bart said of West, to which Jay replied, “One or two … He’s running for president.”
The rapper explained that he thought the rights to “Khosara Khosara” had been properly negotiated after issues were raised following the release of “Big Pimpin’.”
According to lawyers for Jay Z and Timbaland, Hamdi’s family had been repeatedly paid for the use of “Khosara Khosara.” A music expert also testified that four notes from the song’s 74 notes are repeated throughout “Big Pimpin’.”
Jay Z shed some light on when Timbaland first played him the “Khosara Khosara” melody, as he was about to leave a meeting, and he put together most of the song in a few hours.
He spoke highly of the super-producer. “He tells me his beats are better than my raps. I tell him my raps are better than his beats,” said Jay. “It’s an ongoing thing that I keep winning.”
While he declined to say that the song was vulgar, he did acknowledge its “adult lyrics” and that he still enjoys performing it. “I like the song,” he said. “It’s pretty good.”