It concerns Minaj's use of Chapman's 1988 hit 'Baby Can I Hold You' on her 2018 track 'Sorry'.
The song, which features rapper Nas and had been recorded with the intention of it appearing on her latest album Queen, is not commercially available but is still up online via YouTube, having made its premiere on Funkmaster Flex’s Hot 97 radio show.
35 year old Minaj had made attempts to obtain rights from Chapman for sampling her 1988 hit ‘Baby Can I Hold You’, including reaching out via social media, but without success.
According to the lawsuit, filed on Tuesday (October 23rd) in Los Angeles, Minaj’s song “incorporates the lyrics and vocal melody of [‘Baby Can I Hold You’], its most recognizable and memorable parts”. Chapman is therefore seeking damages and an order to stop any official release.
Nicki Minaj's 'Sorry' is the subject of a lawsuit
Minaj – real name Onika Tanya Maraj - claimed she “had no clue” that ‘Sorry’ contained a sample and once she found out, sent out a number of tweets aimed at the Chapman back in August this year. She also asked her fans in an online poll if she should delay the release of Queen to wait for the response.
“Chapman, through her own agents and representatives, repeatedly denied… after-the-fact requests to use the composition,” the lawsuit continues. “This action is necessary to redress Maraj's disregard and wilful infringement of Chapman's rights under the Copyright Act, and to ensure that her misconduct is not repeated.”
For her part, four-time Grammy winner Chapman, who last released a studio album in 2008, has always been against the principle of her work being sampled.
“I’m not really a fan of it, especially if people do it without permission,” she told an interviewer back in 2005. “It can work sometimes but at other times it may not be in line with the music that somebody may have come to appreciate from the original. I guess I’m protective.”
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