Today (December 9), J. Cole dropped his fourth studio album 4 Your Eyez Only, and the internet has collectively been losing its shit, but just three tracks into the album, many had a somewhat surprising moment of déjà vu. That pun was unavoidable.
Long story short, the instrumental for track three of Cole’s album, “Deja Vu,” sounds eerily similar to that of Bryson Tiller’s hit single, “Exchange.” Considering “Exchange” has been out for nearly a year at this point, you’d be justified in assuming that “Deja Vu” producers Boi-1da and Vinylz essentially jacked Tiller’s beat for J. Cole’s album—but you’d be wrong.
Take a listen to both tracks back to back below for some context.
Apparently, the story goes like this: at some point, Vinylz sent “Exchange” producer Foreign Teck a video of himself crafting what would eventually become “Deja Vu.” A week later, Foreign uploads a video to his Instagram in which he’s using the same drum patterns from “Deja Vu,” and Vinylz promptly asks him to take it down, which he does.
Several months later, Foreign allegedly reverse engineers the entirety of “Deja Vu” and gives the beat to Bryson Tiller, which eventually becomes “Exchange.” At this point, “Deja Vu” had already been recorded but had obviously not been released, so when Vinylz heard “Exchange” he knew some fuckery had occurred.
Vinylz alleges that after being confronted about the blatant plagiarism, Foreign Teck offered Vinylz publishing compensation for the single, which either makes him the nicest person ever, or means that he knows full well he stole the beat and feels guilty about it.
There's absolutely something to be said for the collective artistic conscious, in that sometimes people make similar works and are influenced by each other without even knowing it. It happens in stand-up comedy all the time, and in a genre built off sampling and reimagining sounds, situations like this are bound to happen.
However, considering the history between these three and the blatant similarity, I have every reason to believe Boi-1da and Vinylz aren't just looking to cover their asses or discredit a fellow producer. This is plagiarism.
To add insult to injury, Boi-1da alleges that Foreign has done this before, and offers up Teck's production on Meek Mill’s “You Know" as proof, which admittedly has extremely similar drum patterns to “Deja Vu.”
So, if you found yourself listening to 4 Your Eyez Only today and wondered why you were immediately kind of sick of that “Deja Vu” instrumental, it’s for very good reason.
Hopefully, Boi-1da and Vinylz get their due credit after this act of alleged theft.
Update: Yup, busted.
By Brent Bradley. Follow him on Twitter.