According to TMZ, rap star Nicki Minaj has been sued by 90’s singer Tracy Chapman? What for exactly? Chapman is accusing Minaj of stealing her song “Baby Can I Hold You” for a single on her latest “Queen” album that features Nas. The single was never cleared according to Nicki Minaj during her CRWN interview around the time of the release of the project.
“So there’s a record on #Queen that features 1of the greatest rappers of all time. Had no clue it sampled the legend #TracyChapman — do I keep my date & lose the record? Or do I lose the record & keep my date? Do we push #Queen back 1week? Ugh! I’m torn, y’all help. Tracy Chapman, can you please hit me. omg for the love of #QueenNicki Minaj Twitter
One of the reasons for the delay of her album that was suppose to be released earlier than the actual time that it did was over the single “Sorry” featuring Nas. In June, Nicki Minaj and her team had reached out to Tracy Chapman about using samples from “Baby Can I Hold You”.
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Chapman alleges in her suit that because Flex was permitted by Minaj’s team to play the song, it was then widely spread without Chapman’s consent. She’s now reportedly suing for damages and wants to prohibit Minaj from further releasing the song.
According to the singer’s longtime attorney, Lee Phillips, “Tracy
Chapman very much protects her rights and she has a right to deny a
license when requested.” Phillips adds that Chapman has received
potentially “hundreds” of requests over the decades to sample or
interpolate her music and that, as far as he knows, she has never
granted a single one. In this case, it had nothing to do with Minaj or
the quality of her song — which Phillips believes samples another
singer performing “Baby” in what sounds like a live recording — but is
rather tied to the very private Chapman’s blanket policy on sampling.
“This action is necessary to redress Maraj’s disregard and willful infringement of Chapman’s rights under the Copyright Act, and to ensure that her misconduct is not repeated,”t
Because “Sorry” clearly “incorporates the lyrics and vocal melody of the
Composition, its most recognizable and memorable parts,” comprising
“approximately half the Infringing Work,” without authorization,
Phillips was forced to file the suit on his client’s behalf once the
song was played on the radio; the suit notes that “on or around” July
16, 2018, Chapman’s business managers informed Minaj’s team that they
would not grant consent to use the song.
Aug. 11, Flex (born Aston George Taylor Jr.) played the song on his Hot 97 show that night; the song was then reportedly played on Power 105’s The Breakfast Club two days later. Because the song has now spread far and wide — including to Nigeria — Phillips says it has become difficult to track down every site that has posted it so far. The suit seeks to restrain Minaj for “copying or otherwise using or exploiting the Infringing Work” and to prevent third parties from doing so, as well as damages for Chapman from any profit Minaj makes from the track. Click here to see a copy of the suit.
“There is no question this is infringement,” says Phillips, senior partner at Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP. “If someone asked what Nicki Minaj’s defense is going to be we have no idea.”
A spokesperson for Minaj could not be reached for comment at press time.