[T]wo recent biographical movies highlighted the importance of having the subject’s original image and music accompanying the soundtrack, the film or both
Lifetime’s unauthorized film Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B, was sharply criticized for trying to tell the singer’s story without any of her original music. The issue arose after licensing issues with her estate and her label Blackground Records.
Instead, producers of Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B used remakes and songs from soundtracks to fill out the movie, which drew high ratings but was blasted in the media because of the accompanying music.
|Aldis Hodge is playing MC Ren in the upcoming N.W.A. biopic Straight Outta Compton|
The same issue was a prominent obstacle for the Jimi Hendrix biopic Jimi: All Is By My Side, which starred Andre 3000.
Like other movies that attempted to tell Jimi’s life, even heavyweight director John Ridley (12 Years a Slave) had to settle on the cover songs Jimi played. The Hendrix Estate refused to license his music for the film.
So how will the Straight Outta Compton N.W.A biopic soundtrack sound?
Original group members Ice Cube and Dr. Dre starred in the highly anticipated trailer for Straight Outta Compton when it was released in February.
|Leroy Phillip Mitchell claims Dr. Dre stole portions of his song “Star In The Ghetto” for MC Ren’s “If It Aint Ruff.” Talk about timing!|
|Compare MC Ren’s song “If It Aint Ruff” to “Star In The Ghetto” by Average White Band|
Their appearance lent credibility to the film’s story, which is being told by veteran director F. Gary Gray. Sonically, the trailer featured the original versions of “Straight Outta Compton” and “Fuck Tha Police.”
There will probably be all-star collaborations and presumably a few remakes of N.W.A classics. However, the real version of one of the group’s classic records may not make it to the movie or soundtrack.
“If It Ain’t Ruff” remains one of the standout songs on N.W.A’s 1988 breakthrough album. The single was a solo for N.W.A’s MC Ren.
Ren’s track may be in jeopardy because of a songwriter named Leroy Phillip Mitchell, who has come forward seeking an injunction to block any further usage of the song.
Mitchell is seeking at least $1 million from Universal, Priority, MC Ren and Dr. Dre, the song’s producer.
The Average White band remade Mitchell’s song and Dre sampled their version.
Mitchell claims Dr. Dre swiped significant portions of the AWB’s 1977 but he was never compensated.
The songwriter claims that despite selling millions of copies as a single and albums, a license was never obtained to sample the song.
“Defendants have knowingly also allowed others to infringe through their knowledge that this music was not their work but instead the work of Plaintiff Mitchell,” the lawsuit reads. “Therefore, (they) are contributorily liable for others conduct who have infringed or may still be infringing at this time.”
Mitchell’s lawyers are asking the judge in Louisville, Kentucky, for a trial by jury to determine the damages owed to the songwriter.
The lawsuit also requested a temporary and permanent ban on any further use of “If It Ain’t Ruff,” which could keep it off of the Straight Outta Compton film and soundtrack.