Hugh ‘Redman’ James, the producer of Flourgon‘s 1988 hit We Run Things, says he’s yet to receive compensation following the Dancehall artist’s successful lawsuit against American singer Miley Cyrus three years ago. However, Flourgon has argued that Redman isn’t entitled to any earnings from the undisclosed settlement, as the lawsuit hinged on his lyrics, not the production.
During an interview with DancehallMag on Thursday, Redman claimed that he unwittingly signed away his rights to the song in early 2017, the same year Flourgon registered We Run Things with the US Copyright Office.
“I was sleeping, you know January morning…you ‘sport’ the whole holiday [and] yuh sleep di whole a January. Flourgon came to me and seh him wah do a lawsuit and him bring a letter come. I did not read the letter,” the veteran producer said. “I just get up outta mi bed and sign it, [and] is sign I sign weh everything to Flourgon.”
According to Redman, his own plans to sue Cyrus fell through: “I try and I fail to enuh. Suh, when him seh him a sue, mi nuh pay it no mind. In other words, I was dealing basket to carry water. I said it wouldn’t work, but it worked.”
In March 2018, Flourgon initiated the lawsuit against Cyrus, her label Sony Music, and producer Mike Will Made It for $300 million in damages, alleging that lyrics from We Run Things were illegally used in the song We Can’t Stop, including the phrase “We run things. Things no run we,” which Cyrus sang as “We run things. Things don’t run we.”
Cyrus’s song, released in 2013, had spent 26 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at No. 2. It is currently certified 8X Platinum in the US.
In January 2020, Flourgon, whose real name is Michael May, secured a settlement, aided by New York-based attorneys Stephen Drummond and JoAnn Squillace and well-known American attorney Willie E. Gary, who, interestingly, is portrayed by Jamie Foxx in the 2023 film The Burial.
The 53-year-old artist recalled that Redman was not optimistic about the lawsuit’s chances. “I remember clearly coming to him, and he spoke to someone about it. Because those people were so powerful, it take a good strong lawyer to get money from dem,” Flourgon told DancehallMag on Friday.
“No lawyer from Jamaica coulda win the case, ’cause when me go America, ah the first me see racism, clearly. When mi see the people dem involved, mi know dem nah go give me justice me fi get. I really wanted to share [the settlement] with everyone, but when I found out what I got, it couldn’t work,” he continued.
The veteran artist further defended his decision not to share the settlement with Redman.
“One, I never got a dollar from Redman. Dem never sample the song, ah my lyrics dem use, so Redman wasn’t entitled to anything, and the money weh yu hear dem a talk bout, nothing no go so, ah just rumour,” Flourgon argued.
“All the man dem who surround We Run Tings have house and tings. So I couldn’t get a little bit of money like that and don’t buy somewhere to live and give some of my friends dem money all bout. It couldn’t share…and mi have to make sure put down a money so if me dead, mi can bury,” he explained.
Redman, however, claimed that Flourgon had promised him a portion of the settlement while the case was ongoing.
“My niece is a lawyer and when she find out she call mi and seh, ‘uncle, how come yuh mek Flourgon suing?’ Yuh is number one and he is number 2 and she tell me to counter. When I decide to counter, him seh enough money deh deh can share and that was that. Yuh cyaa tek a man word for it,” Redman said.
He said he last spoke to Flourgon in July this year. However, much was not said as the singer was ill in New York.
Redman lamented that he has “paid the price” for failing to read the document he signed in 2017 but expressed hope for an amicable resolution outside of court, though he didn’t mention the specific share he’s seeking.
“We aguh sort it out. He’s still collecting from Miley Cyrus like every six months or every year, he gets a big cheque,” he said. “We can sit down and talk. As we speak, maybe by now and tomorrow, I give him a call.”
Meanwhile, Flourgon said that even though he has always been charitable, giving to schools, infirmaries, homes, and people in need, he is not obligated to share the settlement with anyone.
“When I got the money, water come outta mi eye cause how mi a go face the pressure with so much people? Mi kids, family and mi friends dem.. but wah mi get, mi just give thanks cause it coulda never be nothing,” he said.
“They never gave me a dollar and I get a chance to make ah money off my creativity, I supposed to be alright. When oonu collect and gone, mi alone ah face the public and pressure, I have to secure myself. I am giving you nothing because oonu nuh supposed to get nothing,” the artist said defiantly.
He reiterated that the settlement was not as massive as members of the public have been led to believe.
“If me did get big money like that, mi no live a moon man. All this ’cause is problem pon me, ah problem with my family, mi friend and mi no obligated to no man. Man all owe me and say dem nah pay me straight,” he admitted.
‘We Run Things’ Anthology Album
Despite being at odds over the settlement, We Run Things will appear on a VP Records anthology album, dubbed ‘Redman International— We Run Tings,’ on Friday, December 1, demonstrating a degree of cooperation between the artist and producer.
The album will feature 40 of Redman’s most legendary tracks from the ‘80s and ‘90s, including Conroy Smith’s Dangerous, Sanchez’s Lady In Red and Old Friend, Thriller U’s Careless Whisper, and Tippa Lee & Rappa Robert’s No Trouble We.
Still, Redman argued that his earning potential had been affected because of the document he signed. “Even when VP putting out the song, they had to get in touch with me and I called Flourgon and him and dem straighten it up and him tell dem seh it’s my tune and him put it inna writing,” he said. “But him need fi clear dat up so I can make some money off of it. The world know that it’s my song, but that’s what happened.”
For his part, Flourgon explained he willingly gave clearance for the song to be included on the VP album.
“All wah day ya, Redman said he wanted to produce a We Run Tings album that him do with songs like No Trouble We and he came to me cause he was putting it out through VP and he asked me permission to use the song and name the album, We Run Tings. Memba say mi register We Run Tings and everything, so that ah after dem sell and collect wah dem fi collect, and I gave him clearance,” he said.
“Redman is a loving person and a very nice person. Me love Redman and him know that, but some of the time, you have to make decisions weh harsh to strengthen yuself,” Flourgon added.