Deejay Michael ‘Flourgon’ May’s We Run Things is listed by discogs.com as having been released in 1988 by the Redman International label as a seven-inch single. However, after his lawsuit against American singer Miley Cyrus for her use of the phrase, of which his song’s title is a part, in her hit We Can’t Stop, Flourgon’s legal team is claiming that he created it even earlier. A US$300-million claim was filed in New York City, USA, in March this year against Cyrus and Sony Music.
JoAnn Squillace of the firm Drummond and Squillace, a member of a team of six lawyers which sat with The Gleaner yesterday, said Flourgon created the words under contention in 1981, while associated with the Rambo Mango sound system, an outfit which the Encyclopedia of Popular Music names Buju Banton as having also been involved with. Squillace spoke about various ways of infringing on the intellectual property of a song, clarifying “you can take the actual lyrics, which is what we are claiming here”.
To audibly demonstrate Flourgon’s position, she played a recording of We Run Things and We Can’t Stop alternately, Cyrus singing “we run things, things don’t run we” and Flourgon deejaying “we run tings, tings nuh run we”. Focusing on the words, Squillace noted that musically, “They don’t sound alike, they don’t have to” and emphasised that the lines are in the most important part of Cyrus’ song, the chorus. The team has a trio of persons ready to state that Flourgon created the phrase.
In addition to the words, Squillace said Cyrus followed the theme of Flourgon’s song, which is about being in self-control, not caring what anyone thinks and being determined that “I am going to do me.”
Stephen Drummond of the same firm noted that Flourgon, who is now 53 years old (which would make him about 16 when he came up with “we run things”), “was a little boy when he came up with the idea. There is a certain humility to him that we love. And with Flourgon’s obtaining formal copyright for We Run Things shortly before the lawsuit was filed, emphasised that the deejay’s ownership of the intellectual property goes back to the 1980s. While ‘we run things, things no run we’ became commonly used in Jamaica, Drummond emphasised that things which become a part of popular culture have an origin.
The team said the tour for the 2013 Bangerz album, which Can’t Stop Me is on, made US$63 million, with other income streams not being taken into consideration. They also said We Can’t Stop is one of three songs that Cyrus performs consistently, singing it even while promoting other projects. Cyrus’ hit Wrecking Ball is also on Bangerz.
The website celebritynetworth.com lists Cyrus worth at US$160 million.