Oh, Kanye. Even when Mr. West is doing the one thing we actually want him to do, it’s like he goes out of his way to upset someone. During his recent listening event in Miami, one of the songs he played from Vultures, his and Ty Dolla Sign’s upcoming joint album, samples Backstreet Boys’ 1997 hit, “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back).” However, according to TMZ, Kanye never cleared the sample. Sources connected to the ’90s boy band (I guess they’re a man band now?) say he didn’t clear it — although, as per usual, TMZ’s pretty vague about just what that means.
TY DOLLA $IGN
— NFR Podcast (@nfr_podcast) December 12, 2023
After all, Kanye may not have had to go through the band to get a sample (or an interpolation) cleared, just the rights holders — who may have thought it was worth it for access to any potential sales success the song/album may have (Kanye is still pretty famous, after all). However, the band’s members themselves may not enjoy being connected to an artist who’s been out of the spotlight for the past 12 months due to making inflammatory remarks that many commentators have categorized as antisemitic.
Those remarks have already cost Kanye greatly; he’s no longer classified as a billionaire after losing lucrative endorsement deals with Adidas and other companies, his bank accounts were publicly closed, and his big idea for a massive, stadium-sized Vultures rollout was downsized when he couldn’t find a venue willing to take him. And just in case it seemed like the past year was enough time for him to learn his lesson, during that Miami listening, he straight up donned a Ku Klux Klan hood, taking the “Black Skinhead” motif to its most extreme interpretation in his ongoing efforts to stir the pot without actually adding any flavor (because it’s tasteless, you see).
So, although he may have permission to use the interpolation of “Everybody,” that doesn’t mean the band is getting paid for it nor do they seem happy about it (and recent history suggests he might not have cleared the clip in the first place, either way).