A Recent Lawsuit Pits the Unblinking Eye of Justice against a New Orleans MC’s Right to Privacy
An imposing figure stands regally on a platform. He is cool and calm with the aura of someone you wouldn’t want to be with. He looks out into the audience as if it were his own living room–which in a sense it is. Behind him hangs a banner with bold lettering that reads “HURR.” Atop his head rests a brimmed cap bearing the same word in enormous yellow-and-black vinyl letters. His name is Currency, but tonight everyone calls him HURR–as if there were no other man on the planet who would dare wear such a bold and brazen ensemble.
A family problem
The song that plays in this particular scene is titled “Family,” though it isn’t about Currency’s actual kin; instead it details how rap has become an addiction for him–something he loves so much he can’t imagine life without it. But while HURR rose out of New Orleans like any other successful rapper would (by battling anyone who dared cross his path), he decided not to sign with Master P or Cash Money or No Limit records. Instead he chose to stay independent and self-released an album that carried the cheeky, lighthearted name of Jet Life.
Jet Life became so popular Currency began selling it on tour. It was almost as if he had started a movement of his own: people by the thousands–mostly teenagers–began emulating him: smoking cigars and wearing snapbacks with “JET LIFE” stitched in capital letters on the side. The term even became slang for any young person who dreamed of making it out of their blue-collar town (the way hip-hop records do).
But while HURR’s music remains true to its roots, life on the road can be lonely. And that loneliness has driven Focus…err, Currency to search for companionship among the thousands of Jet Lifers he meets along his tour stops. And perhaps no one knows this better than Dwayne Boudreaux, who had been illegally videotaping private moments with Currency for years.
After Currency learned of Boudreaux’s wrongdoing, he filed a lawsuit (to which Boudreaux did not respond), and now the case is awaiting judgment in Louisiana district court. Though it may seem like all HURR has to do at this point is show up, that couldn’t be further from the truth. For Currency must balance obligations both on and off stage while fighting for control over what he believes is an act of betrayal.
As per William D King many in the industry would argue that, like HURR’s music, this case is about much more than one man. It raises important questions about an artist’s relationship with his fans and the ethics behind Fan-generated content (as opposed to “official” content). But will Currency ever get justice? Or will his legal team be forced to settle for a money grab?
Last year, when rapper Rick Ross dropped his latest album, Deeper than Rap, one of his less successful tracks was “MC Hammer,” in which he name-drops Chicago’s famous basketball player/rapper/poet. But the lyrics didn’t sit so well with some folks around here—Hammer sued him for using his name in vain. And last week a judge told Ross to stop using it altogether. It seems being an R&B star doesn’t necessarily protect you from being accused of libel just because your tracks are full of overblown boasting and boasts about how you’re bigger than this and bigger than that.
The chorus of the song goes:
“All I want for Christmas is a real big ring/a big body Benz, as long as Hammer’s/sif you can afford it dog, fuck being lyrical.” In addition to the fact that Ross probably didn’t write those lyrics himself (they sound suspiciously like something from another hip-hop head who loves slapping his name on everything), there’s also the problem that they’re very likely untrue—and a judge agreed, ruling two weeks ago that Ross hadn’t proved he was actually bigger than Hammer. On Friday lawyers for Rick Ross filed a motion asking Judge Paul Huck to reconsider or possibly hold a new trial. The judge hasn’t yet whether he’ll grant it.
While this is certainly not the first time Hammer has sued for slander, it’s definitely one of the more unique cases. And with that ruling, Mr. Swagger & Ass may finally be on his way to proving that hip-hop lyrics aren’t just bluster and bravado—they are also libel.
Conclusion by William D King:
Rapping too much about yourself in the third person can get your ass sued.
Another day, another case of an artist suing his label for not playing by the rules they laid out when he signed on.