Pharrell Addresses The Legal Battle With Marvin Gaye’s Estate Over “Blurred Lines”

Pharrell Williams and Helen Lasichanh arrive at the 56th annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles
From a shoot with GQ

From a shoot with GQ

For Pharrell Williams, releasing an album with virtually no marketing was no problem when his name was tied to not only one of the hottest movies of the summer (Despicable Me 2) but also one of the summer’s hottest hits, Robin Thicke‘s “Blurred Lines.”

Of course, some would believe that when you’re at the top, you’re an easier target. As Biggie appropriately put it, “Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems.” That’s the case (no pun intended) with Pharrell’s unfortunate troubles with the estate of Marvin Gaye. If you were unaware, the “Blurred Lines” trio, Robin Thicke, T.I., and Pharrell filed a lawsuit against Bridgeport Music and the late soul singer’s estate. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the lawsuit stated:

“Plaintiffs, who have the utmost respect for and admiration of Marvin Gaye, Funkadelic and their musical legacies, reluctantly file this action in the face of multiple adverse claims from alleged successors in interest to those artists. Defendants continue to insist that plaintiffs’ massively successful composition, ‘Blurred Lines,’ copies ‘their’ compositions.”

According to reports at the time, the lawsuit was threatened in the hopes that both the family of Gaye and Bridgeport Music would receive a monetary settlement.

In a recent interview with XXL, Williams finally spoke out about the afflicting suit saying:

I have the utmost respect, the most, utmost respect for Marvin Gaye and his music and he is one of the patriarchs. He is one of the best. But here’s the thing—you can’t trademark a groove. If I play a song—which a lot of my new hip-hop, rap records are—that’s done in 6/8 time signature, Charlie Parker’s family is not going to sue me for that. Do you understand what I’m saying? If I do a salsa beat right now, I know that Ricky Martin’s family is not going to come looking for me.

That’s what we’re dealing with. We’re dealing with the idea that someone feels like a groove is proprietary, and it’s not. Music is, and the notes are, and when you look at the sheet music, then you’d know. And just for a bit of humor, the percussion that I use on ‘Blurred Lines,’ aside from the music notation being completely different, completely different—the sheet music is available online, by the way—but the percussion, I was trying to pretend that I was Marvin Gaye, and what he would do had he went down to Nashville and did a record with pentatonic harmonies, and more of a bluegrass chord structure. So unfortunately there’s no comparison between the minor, bluesy chords he was playing and my major, bluegrass-y chords, and that’s very plain to see for anyone who can read music.

-Jamaal Fisher (@jamaalfisher)

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