Tracy Chapman is suing Nicki Minaj for copyright infringement. The lawsuit alleges that rapper Minaj sampled Chapman’s 1988 single, “Baby Can I Hold You” on the Minaj single, “Sorry,” which was released in August.
Minaj (real name Onika Maraj) admitted to as much in a series of since-deleted tweets, in which she claimed to not realize Chapman’s song was sampled so heavily in “Sorry” and asked for Chapman to get in touch.
Chapman and her attorneys claim they “repeatedly denied Maraj’s after-the-fact requests to use the Composition” and now demand that Minaj cease “copying or otherwise using or exploiting the Infringing Work, including its interpolation of the Composition,” according to Rolling Stone
Minaj had originally planned to include “Sorry,” which features the rapper Nas, on her fourth studio album, Queen. Rather than hold up the record release, Minaj cut “Sorry” from the 19-track record before releasing the single separately a few days after the album came out.
According to the suit, Minaj continued to send requests through her lawyers to Chapman. At one point, it seems, Minaj did get a reply, although not the one she was hoping for. “Sis said no,” she wrote in a since-deleted tweet, according to Variety.
Then, on August 11, Minaj went ahead and released the track anyway.
Representatives for Minaj and her management did not respond to Rolling Stone‘s requests for comment. In a statement, Chapman’s longtime lawyer Lee Phillips said, “Tracy Chapman very much protect her rights and she has a right to deny a license when requested. There’s no question that this is infringement. If you ask what Nicki Minaj’s defense going to be, we have no idea.”