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Nipsey Hussle Claims JAY-Z Clearing "Hard Knock Life" Sample in 1998 Included Future Clearance for All Rappers

"We benefited off his negotiating in 1998."
Nipsey Hussle, The Breakfast Club, JAY-Z, Hard Knock Life

If you've run through the credits for Nipsey Hussle's newly-released album, Victory Lap, you might be wondering why JAY-Z is listed as a composer on "Hussle & Motivate."

According to Hussle, who sat down for an interview this morning with The Breakfast Club, it was JAY-Z who signed off on the "It's the Hard-Knock Life" sample from Annie for the record, which Hov famously cleared for his 1998 single.

"You know what's crazy about that record?" Nipsey said. "This is what I learned when we was going through the process and the paperwork. When JAY-Z got Annie to clear the record, I guess when he paid them, he said, 'Y'all gotta let every rap artist after me use this.' That was his deal with whatever producers and writers—so we benefited off his negotiating in 1998. We just had to get JAY-Z to clear it."



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To confirm Nipsey's claims that Jay managed to both clear the sample for himself and for all future rap artists, we have reached out to the Warner/Chappell Music representative listed by performance rights organization ASCAP, who, per their public database, oversees 50% of the copyright on the original song by Andrea McArdle, an even split between Charles Strouse Publishing and Morris Edwin H. & Co. At press time, we have received no reply.

For those unfamiliar with the origin story of Jay managing to clear the Annie sample, we highly recommend reading the now-defunct Grantland's 2014 oral history, which includes this gem from Hov himself:

I decided to write the company a letter myself. I made up this story about how when I was a seventh grader in Bed-Stuy, our teacher held an essay contest and the three best papers won the writer a trip to the city to see Annie. A lie. I wrote that as kids in Brooklyn we hardly ever came into the city. True. I wrote that from the moment the curtain came up I felt like I understood honey’s story. Of course, I’d never been to see Annie on Broadway. But I had seen the movie on TV. Anyway, they bought it, cleared it, and I had one of my biggest hits.  

Rappers, Hov (reportedly) did that so hopefully you won't have to go through that. 


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