The Virtues of Sampling, Copyright and 'Big Pimpin''

Jay Z's case reveals a fascinating creative process.

Big testifyin'.

Photographer: Kevork S. Djansezian/Getty Images

Everything came from Egypt, according to the ancient Athenians -- and apparently that includes “Big Pimpin’,” one of Jay Z’s early hit singles. The beat under the rap was laid down by Timbaland, who was on his way to becoming the superproducer he is now, and it relied on a sample from an Egyptian song from the 1950s. On Wednesday, in federal court in Los Angeles, where he's being sued for copyright infringement, Jay Z acknowledged the borrowing but said he’d credited the song’s author, Egyptian composer Baligh Hamdi. 

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