John Oliver and New Zealand Prime Minister in escalating spat over rap music

The comedian's HBO show mocked Bill English's National Party, which is being sued for infringing on Eminem's copyright

John Oliver and New Zealand Prime Minister in escalating spat over rap music


In a rapping beef to rival Tupac vs Biggie, New Zealand’s Prime Minister Bill English has entered into a war of words with British comedian John Oliver after a segment on Last Week Tonight on HBO.

On Sunday evening, Oliver opened his satirical look back on the previous seven days by reporting on a copyright case taking place involving rapper Eminem’s Lose Yourself and a 2014 election campaign for English’s National Party.

Filed by Eminem’s publishers in Wellington High Court last September 2014, the Detroit-based copyright holders allege that the TV advert infringed upon the rapper’s copyright for the Oscar-winning song from the film 8 Mile.

The National Party’s campaign manager for the 2014 general election responded to the controversy at the time by saying the use of the song was “pretty legal,” claiming the music used had been purchased from an Australian music library.

The case kicked off in Wellington on May 1st, with the National Party defending itself by revealing the song used in the advert was produced by a stock music company named BeatBox. The song in question was called Eminem Esque, which – when announced in a thick kiwi accent on a New Zealand news report – had John Oliver’s audience in stitches.

But Oliver’s mocking impression of the New Zealand accent and ironic take on the copyright did not leave the country’s Prime Minister tickled pink; when pressed by reporters for a reaction to the brief Last Week Tonight segment, the Prime Minister said he had no intention of watching it because John Oliver “isn’t very funny.”

“For the sake of his audience, I hope it’s funny,” Bill English said, adding, “Some of the stuff I’ve seen he does isn’t very funny.”

2017 has already been a rough year for the New Zealand leader on social media, with photos of a pizza he prepared at home going viral in April.

“Cooked dinner for the family last night – life if you agree with tinned spaghetti on pizza!” the Prime Minister wrote on Facebook.

In a series of accompanying photos, English is seen posing with his creation, a pizza that included tinned spaghetti, tomatoes, ham, basil and pineapple chunks.

Eight Mile Style v New Zealand National Party is expected to wrap up in court this week, with John Oliver almost certainly rising to the Prime Minister’s bait on the next episode of Last Week Tonight on Sunday.

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