Um...Shouldn't Power Get A Royalty Check From Empire Now Too?

Fox screenshot
Fox screenshot

The "Blurred Lines" verdict likely won't signal the end of the music industry. Although I agree that it set a bad precedent, I doubt it's going to lead to a world where the only music not in danger of facing a copyright suit is made in the shower.


But, if we are going to go there — if things that draw strong similarities to other things can be sued for the similarities now — shouldn't 50 Cent and Courtney Kemp Agboh (the creators of "Power") be expecting a rather large royal check from Lee Daniels and whoever else is behind "Empire" sometime soon? Granted, they're not the exact same show. But they're both about Black people with some connection to both the music industry and crime. They're also both 40-something minutes long, both have similar titles, both frequently incorporate scenes with shirtless lightskint dudes, both feature casts you can totally see Common eventually being a part of, and, for like a two week stretch in mid-2014, I thought they actually were the same show.

Still, I doubt the "Power" people are going to be taking the "Empire" people to court any time soon. But it does bring to mind all the instances in pop culture where someone's success is totally derivative of someone else's. Perhaps there won't be any settlements given out, but they should at least send them some flowers and Whole Foods chocolates every month.

For instance…

Drake and 808s & Heartbreak

Although 808s received mixed reactions when released — and by "received mixed reactions" I mean "made everyone collectively say "What the fuck is this?" — it's proven to be perhaps the most influential album of the last decade. Now, every hip-hop album seems to be made with the same "Wait…is he rapping or singing right now? And is this even a song???" sound, and no one has benefitted from this more than Drake. I've listened to If You're Reading This It's Too Late maybe 10 times in the last couple of weeks and I still haven't figured out where the choruses are (and if there even are choruses), where the verses are (and if there even are verses), and the difference between "Drake rapping," "Drake singing," and "Drake talking."

The iPhone and the T-Mobile Sidekick

It wasn't always cool to have a BAFP (a big-ass fucking phone). In fact, there was a period from maybe 2000 to 2002 where it got to the point where people were carrying around phones the size of a Cheez-it. And then the Sidekick happened; a gray and green monstrosity that made people realize "It's actually kinda cool to have a mini laptop in my pocket. Even if it means carrying around this ugly motherfucker." And then Apple stole their steez by making something much cooler-looking and integrating music on it. And then everyone wanted a BAFP.


Waffles and Pancakes

Just because I just realized there's absolutely no difference between waffles and pancakes aside from the fact that a countless number of years ago, someone took a pancake, accidentally dropped a piece of metal with ridges on it, ate it anyway because they were hungry and just didn't feel like making another pancake, and realized "Hmm. This doesn't taste all that bad. And it even looks, I don't know, fluffier too."


Kim Kardashian and Jenna von Oy

Although the shortest Kardashian woman has the most famous non-Black/non-Latina big booty ever, her "success" is in some part tied to Jenny von Oy. On Wikipedia you'll find that von Oy's most notable contributions to pop culture were being "Six" on "Blossom" and "Stevie" on "The Parkers." This is a lie. Nothing she ever did — and will ever do — will surpass the fact that she very well might of have been the first White chick with ass anyone ever saw on TV. Before von Oy, White woman's asses were largely thought to just be extensions of their backs. (Basically just back, butt crack, and legs.) But von Oy made us realize that some White women actually do have something back there, and without her, Kim Kardashian would be working in one of those Sephoras in JCPenny that no one even knows exists because no one goes into JCPenny.

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB, a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times, and the author of What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker (Ecco/HarperCollins)


Sigma_Since 93

A few additions

White Castle vs Crystal

Sauce based barbecue vs Vinegar based barbecue

Ryans vs Golden Corral

Beef Ribs vs Pork Ribs