Nicki Minaj pays Tracy Chapman US$450k after sampling song without permission

Sunday, 10 Jan, 2021

While the track "Sorry" was not released with the album, it was leaked to popular NY radio DJ Funkmaster Flex, allegedly by Minaj herself, prompting Chapman to file a lawsuit.

Nicki said she "had no clue" the song contained a sample and once she found out, sent out various tweets to Tracy urging her to get in contact.

Despite choosing not to include the music on his album, the song was leaked and was heard on Funkmaster Flex's Hot 97 radio show. Chapman refused Minaj permission to use her song. Unbeknownst to Minaj, that song was based on Baby, Can I Hold You Tonight, from Chapman's Grammy-winning 1988 debut album.

Chapman filed her notice of acceptance of Minaj's offer on Thursday.

Minaj, whose real name is Onika Maraj, did make multiple requests to license the song in summer 2018 - after she recorded and used it "without the requested license", the suit alleged. One of the clearance specialists dealing with the matter allegedly knew that Chapman was on the "do not sample list"-an unwritten list of artists who are known not to allow samples of their work".

Judge Phillips still however still went ahead with setting up the trial, to look into how the song leaked and was ultimately distributed. "Tracy Chapman, can you please hit me. omg for the love of #Queen." she posted on Twitter in 2018.

However, Tracy Chapman addressed the $450,000 agreement in a widely circulated statement, relaying that she is "glad" to move past the dispute. The court document at the time read, "The Infringing Work incorporates the lyrics and vocal melody of the Composition, [which represent] its most recognizable and memorable parts".