Bad Timing Alert! Grieving Beastie Boys Sued Over Licensed to Ill, Paul's Boutique Tunes

Trio were accused the day before Adam "MCA" Yauch's death of wrongfully sampling another group's tunes; Mike D offers up his own tribute to late bandmate

By Natalie Finn May 09, 2012 12:30 AMTags
Obit Gallery, Beastie Boys, Adam YauchBrad Barket/Getty Images

Well, this is awkward.

The Beastie Boys—the surviving two of whom are mourning the death of Adam "MCA" Yauchwere sued the day before Yauch's death last week from cancer by a hip-hop label that claims the group wrongfully sampled a couple of songs from its catalog.

But at least the plaintiff, TufAmerica, is aware of its rather inauspicious timing.

"I was very sorry to hear of Adam Yauch's untimely passing, and can assure you that the unfortunate timing of the filing of TufAmerica's complaint had nothing to do with his health," the label's attorney, Kelly Talcott, told E! News today. "On behalf of myself and TufAmerica, I offer our condolences to Adam's family, friends, and fans."

As for the label's beef, TufAmerica is accusing the Beastie Boys and Universal Music Group of wrongfully sampling tunes by the group Trouble Funk on the songs "Shadrach" and "Car Thief," from Paul's Boutique in 1989. The album was then remastered and rereleased in a deluxe edition in 2009 to mark its 20th anniversary.

TufAmerica claims that "Shadrach" contains a "distinctive vocal sequence" from the Trouble Funk tune "Say What"—and that it was integrated into the song enough to become identified with "Shadrach."

The suit also alleges that "Car Thief" samples Trouble Funk's "Drop the Bomb" "in such a way as to integrate it with the original and other sampled recordings that, together, make up the whole of the piece."

Portions of "Drop the Bomb" also show up, according to the complaint, on "Hold It, Now Hit It " and "The New Style" from the Beastie Boys' 1986 debut, Licensed to Ill.

TufAmerica is seeking unspecified damages, to be determined at trial, for alleged copyright infringement, unjust enrichment and misappropriation.

The surviving Beastie Boys, Adam "Ad-Rock" Horovitz and Michael "Mike D" Diamond, have remained pretty silent since Yauch's death on Friday at the age of 47, but both paid tribute to their fallen brother online.

"As you can imagine, s--t is just fkd up right now," Horovitz noted yesterday on the group's blog, and Diamond later expanded on that sentiment.

"I know, we should have tweeted and instagrammed every sad, happy and inspired thought, smile or tear by now," he wrote. "But honestly the last few days have just been a blur of deep emotions for our closest friend, band mate and really brother. I miss ...Adam so much. He really served as a great example for myself and so many of what determination, faith, focus, and humility coupled with a sense of humor can accomplish. The world is in need of many more like him. We love you Adam...NYC is such a unique place that amidst it's huge size and frenetic pace it really opens up it's heart in so many ways and on on so many levels in times like these. And though it makes me cry sometimes, it has been really amazing and moving to see."

—Reporting by Baker Machado