Copyright Controversy

‘Harlem Shake’ Track Facing Copyright Issues

Two artists claim ‘Harlem Shake’ producer used their samples, and are now seeking compensation.

Baauer has been enjoying the fruits of his labor with his track “Harlem Shake” by gaining Internet viral fame and climbing the Billboard charts to the number one spot for the past three weeks. But he's now garnering attention from two musicians claiming his song sampled their music, without obtaining licensing for their songs.

Former reggaetón artist Hector Delgado and rapper Jayson Musson were both astonished when friends brought to their attention that their voices were used on “Harlem Shake," and are now seeking payment from Baauer’s record label, Mad Decent Records, as reported by the New York Times. Both parts in the song sampling the artists’s voices provide the pivotal moments in the viral videos, when fans explode into a dance frenzy. Delgado, who is now an evangelical preacher, is heard saying the line “con los terroristas” (“with the terrorists”) on the song, and Musson exhorts, “do the Harlem Shake!”

“It’s almost like they came on my land and built a house,” Delgado told The Times.

The origins of the sampling began in Philadelphia when Baauer, whose real name is Harry Rodrigues, was working in the hip hop and electronic scene under the moniker, Cap’n Harry. The sample was a trademark shout-out of Delgado’s songs, which Baauer found online. When Baauer was asked by the Daily Beast how he found Delgado’s famous line, the EDM producer said, “The dude in the beginning I got somewhere off the Internet, I don’t even know where.”

Musson’s chant is from the 2001 song, “Miller Time,” by the Philadelphia rap group, Plastic Little. He told the New York Times that when he found out his voice was used in the track, he called Baauer and thanked him for “doing something useful with our annoying music.”

Both artists are in discussions with the record label for payment for the samples and Musson has said they are being “cooperative.”