Ready to Die has been deep-sixed by a federal judge.
Sales of the Notorious B.I.G.'s 1994 debut were immediately halted Friday after a Nashville jury determined that the album's title track sampled from an Ohio Players song without permission.
U.S. District Judge Todd Campbell imposed a ban on sales of both Biggie's breakthrough album and the offending song in all forms, that not only includes physical CDs, tapes and records, but also Internet downloads and radio play.
As the album, which has sold 4 million units to date, is still available for sale on several online music sites, it remains unclear when the order will take effect and how it will be enforced, particularly when it comes to monitoring airplay.
The federal jury in Nashville determined last week that "Ready to Die" had illegally used parts of the Ohio Players' 1971 funk hit "Singing in the Morning."
Aside from the injunction, the jury ruled that Sean "Diddy" Combs, Biggie's most famous friend as well as his record's executive producer, and Bad Boy Entertainment must pay $4.2 million in punitive and direct damages to Bridgeport Music and Westbound Records, the owners of the Ohio Players' song rights.
The favorable ruling was a long time coming for the two latter companies, who have filed hundreds of lawsuits against the sampling of their artists, which also include George Clinton and the Funkadelics. Virtually all the other suits have been settled out of court.
"We've just been battling this for such a long time," Armen Boladian, owner of Bridgeport and Westbound said Friday. "So many have been settled because companies didn't want anything to do with it, and we knew we were right."
Right, maybe. But not yet enriched.
Bad Boy Entertainment, Bad Boy LLC, Justin Combs Publishing (so named for Diddy's son) and Universal Music, all named as defendants in the suit, plan to appeal.
"We think [the verdict] is without merit," defense lawyer Jay Bowen said.
The estate of the late Notorious B.I.G., who was born Christopher Wallace, was originally named as a defendant in the suit but later dropped.
While Biggie's musical legacy was being debated on the East Coast, out on the West Coast there was a development in his ongoing murder investigation.
A new team of LAPD detectives has been assigned to investigate the rapper's 1997 slaying, this time focusing on whether or not there was police involvement in the rapper's death. The news was confirmed announced last Thursday at an L.A. City Council meeting and comes in the wake of an unfavorable legal ruling against the city.
The Brooklyn-born rapper's mother, sister and widow, R&B balladeer Faith Evans, filed a wrongful death lawsuit in 2002, alleging that rogue LAPD officer David A. Mack, a convicted bank robber, orchestrated the "Big Poppa" singer's murder on behalf of Death Row Records chief Marion "Suge" Knight.
Just four days into the trial last summer, previously undisclosed statements were unearthed that hinted at a police cover-up, leading the judge to declare a mistrial in the case. The judge ruled the evidence had been deliberately concealed and in turn ordered the city to pay $1.1 million as a penalty to the family.
The new investigation will pick up with the newfound evidence.
"I've got some real serious questions about how this goes down, and what the police department has done," Councilman Dennis Zine said, per the Los Angeles Times, noting that the sanction was "a tremendous amount of money and it's not over yet."
A retrial for the wrongful death suit is expected later this year.