American rap star NLE Choppa (real name Bryson Potts) has been sued for copyright infringement over his track Make Em Say, released in August 2020 and taken from his album Top Shotta.
Atlanta rapper Kilo Ali, a.k.a Andrell Rodgers, alleges that the vocal chorus from his own song, Love in Ya Mouth, was ripped off to create the melody in NLE Choppa’s Make Em Say.
Warner Music Group, Norva Denton (Senior Vice President of A&R for Warner Records), NLE Choppa Entertainment, Alien Records, its Vice President Ron Cabiltes and several others are also named as defendants in the suit.
The lawsuit was filed against NLE Choppa and the other defendants on Thursday (June 24) in California Central District Court on behalf of Kilo Ali by Blaise & Nitschke, the same firm that filed a federal class-action lawsuit against Donald Trump last year for clients who had been denied Covid-19 stimulus checks.
According to the copyright lawsuit, Rodgers (aka Kilo Ali) “is a critically-acclaimed rap music artist who has performed under the name Kilo Ali since 1991”.
It adds that “his works have proven inspirational to much of the rap music emerging from the south, particularly Atlanta”.
In Kilo Ali’s complaint, it is explained that “in or around 1997”, he composed the track Love in Ya Mouth and recorded it for Interscope Records. The track was registered for copyright protection on August 26, 1998.
Love in Ya Mouth was released on Kilo Ali’s album Organized Bass (Interscope) in 1997 and featured OutKast’s Big Boi.
The claim, obtained by MBW and which you can read in full here, alleges that throughout NLE Choppa’s Make Em Say, “a distinctive sample of Kilo Ali’s melodic vocal chorus from the sound recording embodying the Original Work comprises the melody of the Infringing Work”.
Additionally, Kilo Ali argues that the “flow and pitch of the post-chorus” in NLE Choppa’s track “is substantially similar” to the chorus in Love in Ya Mouth.
“Further, the lyrics of the chorus and post-chorus of the Infringing Work resemble the lyrics of the chorus of the Original Work in word, sound, and meaning, which invoke the heart of the Original Work,” adds the filing.
Kilo Ali’s lawsuit states that his track (Love In Ya Mouth) was sampled to create NLE Choppa’s Make Em Say and that “none of the Defendants hold a valid and/or enforceable license or any other form of consent to use a sample of the sound recording”.
The legal document adds: “Defendants have not provided any attribution to Kilo Ali for his authorship of the Original Work as reproduced and adapted in the Infringing Work”.
“Defendants have not provided any attribution to Kilo Ali for his authorship of the Original Work as reproduced and adapted in the Infringing Work”.
Kilo Ali lawsuit
In Exhibit A, filed with the lawsuit, Kilo Ali points to various YouTube comments under NLE Choppa’s video for Make Em Say that make reference to similarities between the two songs and the alleged use of a sample from Love in Ya Mouth.
According to Exhibit B, provided for reference with the suit, Make Em Say’s composers include Potts (NLE Choppa), Alyssa Stephens, Zachary Thomas, Terrell McNeal and Norva Denton, all of whom are named in the suit.
Kilo Ali is demanding a trial by jury and seeks damages in the form of “all gains, profits, and advantages derived by Defendants as a result of their unfair trade practices and unfair competition, as well as “all gains, profits, and advantages derived by Defendants as a result of their infringement of Plaintiff’s copyright”.
This case is the latest in a series of high-profile copyright lawsuits filed against superstar artists in recent years.
Last month, Childish Gambino was sued for copyright infringement over This is America.
In April, BTS and Big Hit (HYBE) were sued for copyright infringement over K-Pop reality TV show I-Land.
In August last year Kendrick Lamar was sued for copyright infringement by a musician called Terrance Hayes, over Lamar’s hit single Loyalty, released in 2017 and taken from his fourth album, Damn.
That same month, a copyright infringement lawsuit filed against Lizzo (aka Melissa Jefferson) by three songwriters – Justin and Jeremiah Raisen and Justin ‘Yves’ Rothman – was dismissed by a judge in California.
In July 2020, pop-punk band Yellowcard dropped their $15m copyright lawsuit against Juice Wrld over the late artist’s hit single, Lucid Dreams.
In June 2020, Travis Scott was accused of copyright infringement in a lawsuit filed by Blurred Lines lawyer Richard Busch over his US No.1 single, Highest in the Room.
Meanwhile, in March 2020, a federal court in California overturned the verdict in the Dark Horse copyright infringement suit against Katy Perry – which would have seen her, Capitol Records and her collaborators liable for $2.8 million.
Perry’s win followed Led Zeppelin’s victory over their long-running copyright battle over their classic ’70s song Stairway to Heaven has resulted in a huge victory for the British rock band, as well as their publishing and record label partner, Warner Music Group.Music Business Worldwide