Nicki Minaj settles the suit with Tracy Chapman to the tune of $450,000

Potential samplers, beware

Correction: LLF was contacted by Mr. Howard Bragman, Tracy Chapman’s PR representative, who kindly asked us to add a correction to the below article. As he explained and as it is stated in the copy of the court document, he forwarded us, ‘Rule 68 Offer of Judgment’ which was accepted, was not a settlement, but an acknowledgement of infringement. Essentially, as Mr. Bragman explained, it is “the same as if it went to trial and one side won and one side lost.” As it says in the official press release, “the sum of $450,000 is awarded to Ms. Chapman as part of the judgment against Ms. Minaj.”

Using samples of other artists’ songs has become so common, that almost nobody pays attention to it anymore. Well, almost. Remember the recent furrow with Lil Nas X’s “Old Country Road”? Well it seems Nicki Minaj used a Tracy Chapman sample for one of her songs off Queen without Chapman’s consent. That song was “Sorry” featuring Nas, and it sampled Chapman’s “Baby Can I Hold You.” Despite making a public plea to Chapman, Minaj reportedly later tweeted, “Sis said no.”

While “Sorry” never made it on the album, fans did get to hear it. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the song was allegedly leaked to DJ Funkmaster Flex and spread online. Chapman sued Minaj for copyright infringement, seeking damages and prevention of the use of “Sorry.”

On the verge of the 2021 New Year (December 30), Minaj decided to settle. She offered Chapman the sum of $450,000, which the British singer/songwriter accepted. 

In a statement to E! News, Chapman reacted to the settled case. “I am glad to have this matter resolved and grateful for this legal outcome which affirms that artists’ rights are protected by law and should be respected by other artists,” she said in a statement via her publicist Howard Bragman. “I was asked in this situation numerous times for permission to use my song; in each instance, politely and in a timely manner, I unequivocally said no. Apparently, Ms. Minaj chose not to hear and used my composition despite my clear and express intentions.”

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