Hilarious/Sad: Rapper Sued by Waffle House Over the Track, “Waffle House”

If a rapper made a song in honor of your restaurant, would you sue?

Even if it had the possibility of making you a mandatory afterparty spot for a generation?  Well, after Florida rapper J.R. Bricks started buzzing with the afterparty track, “Waffle House,” he received a surprising letter from Waffle House, Inc.  It was a cease-and-desist, demanding that Bricks change the name of the song and stop using the restaurant’s logo.

Huh? In response, Bricks offered to change the title of the song to “WaffleHaus (After the Party),” though Waffle House, Inc. and WH Capital demanded that the title be altered further.  Ultimately, the song was re-uploaded onto iTunes as “After the Party,” though the Waffle House reference was allowed to remain in the chorus.

Which all seems like another half-hilarious, half-ridiculous abuse of the American legal system, where anything seems fair game for a frivolous lawsuit.  Except that Bricks – whose real name is Earl Harrison, Jr. – pointed to something far more depressing.  Namely, would a clean-cut country star be handed such rough justice?  “I don’t think Waffle House’s actions were motivated by racial discrimination,” Bricks said. “But I do believe it is based on cultural discrimination. I don’t believe they want to see their company associated with the hip-hop lifestyle.”

Which, according to Bricks, is part of a larger trend.  “This reminds me of the incident with Jay-Z and Frederic Rouzaud,” he continued.  “Frederic, the owner of Cristal, said he wasn’t happy with rappers associating themselves with his brand.  Even the Tommy Hilfiger situation… it caused the whole hip-hop world to stop buying their product.  These companies think hip-hop will put their product in a negative light [because] the hip-hop genre is very influential.  If anything, we are giving these large corporations free promo.”

16 Responses

  1. lifer

    I suppose I could boycott Waffle House but I’ve never eaten there. Maybe I’ll just buy the single.

  2. katlupe

    I wish a rapper would write a song about my business, String Baby! That is crazy getting mad about all that free publicity!

    • lifer

      Is String Baby! about guitar strings, thongs, or bikinis?

      Or about guys with string-width weenies?

      Can String Baby! help me get my groove on?

      If not, would you puh-leeze, puh-leeze puh-leeze

      Just move on.

      But if you be talking leather and lace

      If that might possibly be the case

      Your string, baby, has a good chance

      To do well in the race

      And later we can go back to my place.

      And take time out for love.

      Puh-leeze, puh-leeze, puh-leeze

      Let’s take time out for love.

      Uh.

      c. 2011/All rights reserved.

      Ya heard?

      • katlupe

        Hey that rap sounds pretty cool! Make a MP3 file of you rapping it and I’d put it on my website.

        • lifer

          There is a reason you will never hear me rap but if you find someone willing to lay down these words, feel free to go for it.

          Digital Music News: where deals happen and dreams come true..

  3. Papa Daddy

    Can’t believe Waffle House would want to work something out with him. They both could market on this.

  4. Manuel Tessloff

    So, we music biz guys think, hey, why do they cry about a musician using the copyrighted trademark “Waffle House” – it’s just promotion for the brand and will help to sell a huge amount of waffles?

    But this is kind of the same lame argument we hear even from huge brands when they want to use our copyrights in their branding, stating that a 20 mio global TV campaign will help us to sell CDs. Does it? There are some rare examples (which are always repeated when a brand approaches us to use songs for a ridiculously low fee in advertising) but this is definitely not happening too often.

    Still, you’re right – kind of stupid reaction by WH. Does anyone know if Janis Joplin has ever been sued for the Mercedes Benz song?

  5. buckster

    in fairness, when waffle house becomes an after party spot for a “gangsta” function, it can become quite dangerous. violence is not uncommon in waffle house parking lots in wee morning hours. i can understand why waffle house would wish to distance themselves from this “culture”

  6. @jaybirdcom

    Laurie Jakobsen

    Looking forward to “smothered & covered” refs…

  7. Jason Smith

    Why is this so hard to believe? Not all businesses are desperate for marketing, and may only want to be associated with specific brands. If you as a person had your name attached to something you weren’t trying to side with, and that attachment could put you in contact with people you don’t want to deal with, wouldn’t you try to negate that attachment? This is social discrimination; the idea that it’s discrimination at all is absurd.

  8. Pat Warner of Wafflehouse

    I wanted to make a couple of comments on behalf of Waffle House.

    First, Waffle House has not filed a law suit against Mr. Bricks. He received a letter from us asking him not to use our logo and trademarks to promote his song. He agreed not to do that and we appreciate his cooperation. Importantly, we did not ask Mr. Bricks to refrain from using the words “Waffle House” at all in his song and they do in fact appear in his song.

    We discussed with his record label, Block Starz, a number of alternative song names along the lines of “At the Waffle House”, “At the Waffle House After the Club”, “Am Der Waffelhaus” or “Der Waffelhaus After the Club” or something similar (the record label initiated the suggestion of using German). We were willing to work with them on several alternatives, so long as our distinctive yellow and black logo was not used. Ultimately, Mr. Bricks and Block Starz decided to simply go with “After the Club.”

    In short, a trademark owner who fails to take action to prevent unauthorized uses of owned property (in this matter, our logo and the written words “Waffle House”, alone and without other words) puts at risk its ability to later enforce its exclusive rights to that property against other unauthorized users.

    Finally—on behalf of all our employee-owners, we are proud of the diversity of cultures observed in our restaurants—on both sides of the counter. Eat with us and you’ll see, and hear, all of America—truly.

    Thank you for your time.

    Regards,

    Pat Warner

    Waffle House, Inc.

    • paul

      Pat,

      Agreed, “legal action” would have been the better descriptor here, since it looks like things will not progress past the cease-and-desist stage. Thanks for the response.

      /pr.

    • Vail, CO

      Just be happy this is a developing rapper, Wafflehouse! A bigger name would have — and should have — fought the case and gotten a lot of publicity all along the way.

      For starters there is probably an argument for fair use but your name is completely generic as well. It’s not a song called “Elmer’s Waffles” it’s called “Waffle House,” just like a song called “Candy Shop” by 50 Cent. Should “Candy Shoppe, Inc.” sue?

      Very weak action in my opinion that makes you guys look bad.

  9. @DJDangerVenture

    Michael Chouinard

    Don’t want to give waffles a bad name…