Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Poems can only be made of other poems

... but what if your songs are made only of other Jay-Z songs?

Mela Machinko says:
Hov Said It Best is a concept project based largely on Jay Z songs. It uses Jay Z lyrics, concepts and even ad libs and cadences to craft entirely new songs that tell my stories....

I am a native Brooklynite and longtime fan of Jay Z. He's absolutely a hometown hero to me. And as a lover of hip hop and lyricism, I noticed a while ago that many lines that originated in Jay Z songs became a part of my everyday speech. Phrases like "we don't believe you, you need more people" made their way seamlessly into my lexicon. And while I relate to the lyrics of many, many songs by many artists, few are as relatable, open to interpretation, and as prolific as Jay Z.

... As a fan, combing back through my favorite songs was enjoyable. Also, the process of how to use the lyrics I chose was an interesting challenge. Whether to use the words verbatim in the context he did, or whether to interpret them differently, whether to paraphrase a bit, or whether to even challenge the lyrics was a fun thing to figure out. ...
My goal with this project is to introduce myself to the music world, and give people some songs that they want to listen to, over and over. These songs are fun and interesting, enjoyable for Jay Z fans and for people who just like good music that doesn't sound like everything else.


dave said...

That sounds like a great, creative, fun idea! It's too bad that my cynicism for the US Copyright Regime gets in the way of instantly appreciating such an idea.

On the one hand, you would be lifting Jay Z's lyrics from his songs -- his exact expression.

On the other hand, you would be rearranging them to tell a new story -- your story.

I would conclude that doing what you propose would be fair-use (without detailing how I mentally weighed the four fair use factors). [Disclaimer: I am not an attorney; you're the expert.]

It disappoints me that US Copyright Law often requires spending time analyzing whether fun, creative, and personal creations can be (legally) created in the first place.

If you get around to it, please post what you come up with on your blog. Or better yet, post a link to you rapping it on YouTube :)


James Grimmelmann said...

"entirely new songs" (emphasis added)

Rebecca Tushnet said...

dave, you should probably direct your comment to the artist! Follow the link to her site. She's already released one song.