Former Black Sabbath frontman Ozzy Osbourne called out Kanye West on social media on Friday (Feb. 9), saying that West had asked to sample a song but was “refused permission because he is an antisemite,” and used the sample anyway at a listening event for his new album at the United Center in Chicago on Thursday. “I want no association with this man!” Osbourne wrote.
Although Osbourne said online that West asked to sample “War Pigs,” the song he seems to have used is “Iron Man” – specifically a version performed by Ozzy Osbourne’s solo band at the 1983 Us Festival.
“We get so many requests for these songs,” his wife and manager Sharon Osbourne tells Billboard, “and when we saw that request, we just said no way.” Without permission, West would be unable to release a new song that used the sample. “We’ve been in touch with his team” about the legal issue,” says Sharon Osbourne. “And it’s also an issue of having respect for another artist.”
Starting in 2022, West, now known simply as Ye, made a series of antisemitic comments, for which he was widely condemned, and lost numerous sponsorship and fashion deals. Although he offered an online apology for his statements in December, the first song from his forthcoming album, Vultures, includes the lyric “How am I antisemitic? / I just fucked a Jewish bitch.” Although West does not seem to have finalized release details for the album – and Ozzy Osbourne’s comments suggest he may face issues clearing samples – he has held a number of listening events to promote it.
Ozzy Osbourne often allows other artists to sample his work. “But the simple thing is, we don’t want to be associated with a hater,” says Sharon Osbourne, who was raised Jewish. (Her father, the U.K. music manager Don Arden, was Jewish.) “To spread hate the way he does, it shouldn’t be allowed. All the excuses – he’s bipolar or whatever – doesn’t change that. It’s like, fuck you, basically.”
Like many early Black Sabbath songs, “Iron Man” was written by the band – Osbourne, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward. Who has the rights to license interpolations of a composition by more than one songwriter can depend on the agreement between them. In this case, Sharon Osbourne tells Billboard that the agreement says all four songwriters need to agree. There could also be permissions issues with the 1983 performance recording, to which Ozzy Ozbourne presumably has the rights.
Coincidentally, Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne dressed up as Kanye West and Bianca Censori for Halloween, but that was “a joke,” Sharon Osbourne said.