‘Harlem Shake’ label facing lawsuit over sample claims

Two artists are seeking compensation over claims Baauer used samples without prior permission

The label behind Baauer’s viral hit ‘Harlem Shake’ is facing a lawsuit from two artists who claim the producer sampled their material without prior permission.

According to the New York Times, reggaeton artist Héctor Delgado and Philadelphia rapper Jayson Musson – who claims his voice can be heard yelling the chorus “Do the Harlem Shake” – are seeking compensation from Mad Decent Records, who put out the single last year. They both claim they did not give permission to Harry Bauer Rodrigues, who records under the name Baauer, to use their material for the record.

As the New York Times explains, getting licences to use samples is standard practice in the music industry in the US and normally a licence is needed from both the music publisher and the record label which made the master recording. Previously court cases have ruled that artists are entitled to royalties even if a short sample is used.


‘Harlem Shake’ became a YouTube sensation due to users uploading videos of themselves and their friends dancing to the song, helping it achieve huge levels of popularity and even hitting the top spot in the US charts last month.

It has been estimated that there are over 40,000 different ‘Harlem Shake’ videos on YouTube with over 175million hits between them, with Baauer claiming top spot on the Billboard Hot 100 after becoming the first beneficiary of a change in the rules stipulating that YouTube plays will now count toward chart figures. The song bagged the Number One position after scoring 103million streams of the song in seven days and an additional 262,000 downloads.