Powerhouse producer Pharrell has finally released a personal statement regarding his preemptive suit filed against the family of Motown legend Marvin Gaye. The statement comes after weeks of legal deliberation and litigation between Pharrell and Robin Thicke on the one hand and the Gaye Estate on the other, over the similarity of this summer’s inalienable hit “Blurred Lines” to the Gaye composition “Got To Give It Up.” The hit-maker spoke on the matter during a recent appearance on the red carpet for a Calvin Klein event during Fashion Week, saying: “If you read music, all you have to do is read the sheet music. It’s completely different.”
The Virginia native (who admittedly cannot read sheet music–peep Nardwuar’s interview around 7:30 in) has managed to deflect most of the controversy revolving around the lawsuit through sheer omission, while praising Marvin as “the patriarch.” With collaborator Robin Thicke taking most of the heat, Pharrell has narrowly escaped the line of questioning pertaining to what has become a very heated debate over what constitutes stealing, as opposed to emulation. It has long been the cold gospel of the sampling generation that to steal is not only necessary, but proper.
But have we gone too far? Is “Got To Give It Up” so inevitably embedded into the fabric of the summer hit, that the two are indistinguishable? I am of the persuasion that the two are greatly distinguishable, however only due to the vocals. Just because one track was recorded in A major and the other in G, doesn’t mean that the two aren’t compositionally similar in an uncanny way. Artists (like Marvin) have routinely dropped songs into lower keys during live performances unbeknownst to their audience. While the legal footing of the matter is still rather murky, I have to wonder; even if imitation was the highest form of flattery, are we doing right by the legacy of an absolute titan by depriving his family the concessions that accompany such obvious emulation? I certainly look forward to the matter being resolved in a civil manner, but until then I personally hope that the Gaye family and constituents get theirs.
spotted at HP