Puff Daddy aka Diddy

Diddy says he pays Sting $5,000 a day for uncleared sample in 1997

In 1997, the hip-hop community and fans worldwide were still mourning the loss of the iconic rapper the Notorious B.I.G. His manager, producer, and friend Sean Combs, now known as Diddy, utilized an iconic classic rock song to pay tribute to memory.

Back in the late ’70s and early 80s, the trio of Stewart Copeland, Andy Summers, and Sting, better known as The Police, were one of the most famous rock bands on the planet.  Their collection of hits includes timeless singles such as Roxanne, Message In A Bottle, Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic and the somber hit Every Breath You Take.  It was that final track, which was included on The Police’s final album, Synchronicity, that Diddy, then known as Puff Daddy decided to utilize for memorializing the life of Christopher Wallace aka The Notorious B.I.G.  When Puff Daddy released his own debut album, No Way Out, he included a heartfelt tribute to B.I.G. that he titled I’ll Be Missing You, which featured Wallace’s widow, Faith Evans, singing an interpolation of the original chorus.

The sample was never cleared properly and Sting ended up suing Diddy successfully and currently receives 100% of the royalties on the track until 2053.  In an interview on The Breakfast Club back in 2018, Sting revealed that he receives $2,000 a day for the track, but also that he and Diddy are “very good friends now.”  While that sum is already an impressive figure for the songwriter, Diddy recently took to Twitter to correct Sting’s statement and say that it’s actually a staggering $5,000 a day.  While the complexities of sampling and royalty payments will always be of some controversy in the music world, as songwriters and composers will always look to protect their intellectual property and be properly compensated, the process of sampling can create new cash flows and expand the audience of a song or artist to a new generation.

For Sting, he seemed to get all the benefits from Diddy’s decision to sample his track.


Image Credit: Shamsuddin Muhammad via Wikimedia Commons | License: Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

Avid music fan, and avid music producer! Producer and songwriter for NOHC.

[email protected]