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Judge: Rap is a foreign language

The Heartless Crew
Heartless Crew were accused of changing the meaning of the track.

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start quote(The claim) led to the faintly surreal experience of three gentlemen in horsehair wigs examining the meaning of such phrases as 'mish mish man' and 'shizzle my nizzle.'end quote
-- Judge Lewison

LONDON, England -- A High Court judge has admitted that when asked to examine the lyrics of a rap song, he could not understand a word of it.

Judge Lewison had to rule whether composer Andrew Alcee had suffered damage to his honor or reputation through the "derogatory" use of his UK garage number one hit, "Burnin."

The judge said the claim "led to the faintly surreal experience of three gentlemen in horsehair wigs examining the meaning of such phrases as 'mish mish man' and 'shizzle my nizzle.'"

Even when played at half speed, the rap was very hard to decipher, he said.

The words, although in a form of English, were "for practical purposes a foreign language" and he had no expert evidence as to what they meant, he said.

Alcee complained under the Copyright Act that "Burnin," released as a single by Ant'ill Mob, had been distorted or mutilated by its use as backing for a rap by Heartless Crew, which contained references to drugs and violence.

As for Alcee's complaint that he had suffered prejudice from the rap's violent invitation to "string up dem mish mish men", the judge said he had seen a video of Ant'ill Mob, of which Alcee was a member, dressed as 1930s gangsters.

He said a fundamental weakness in his case was that the court had no evidence about his honor or reputation or of any prejudice caused.

He dismissed Mr Alcee's damages claim against East West Records, which used "Burnin" on Heartless Crew's album, "Crisp Biscuit."

The judge also rejected a claim that the track had been used without permission.


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