Kendrick Lamar, the 33 year old American rapper with such hit albums as Damn. and To Pimp A Butterfly, has received a lawsuit for copyright infringement.
The accuser, music producer Terrance Hayes, is adamant that Lamar’s hit song “LOYALTY” was stolen from himself, after an earlier recording emerged on a collaborators hard-drive.
His lawsuit suggests that Lamar “copied the entire composition, including title, melody, harmony and rhythm”.
Lamar is being accused alongside To Pimp A Butterfly collaborator Terrance Martin, Josef Leimberg and Top Dawg Entertainment.
The supposed original is said to have been written and produced in 2011, on Josef Leimberg’s computer. Lamar then used the track, after Martin “[slowed] it down through a synthesizer and combin[ed] it with another sample to disguise the copying”. Thus, according to Haye’s testimony, “LOYALTY” was born.
Some things are still unclear, such as why Hayes has only just decided to file the suit, or to what extent his ‘original track’ sounds like Kendrick’s 2017 release.
It’s not the first time, nor will it be the last, that the music industry has seen someone accuse another of copyright infringement. Many fans of The Verve or The Rolling Stones will think of their infamous bout, in which ‘Bittersweet Symphony’ borrowed the melody from The Stone’s ‘The Last Time’. Despite their consent, The Verve seemed to use ‘too much’ of the melody than was agreed.
However, what makes this unique is the fact that there’s seemingly no intent from Lamar to credit Hayes. If proven to be correct, Kendrick practically ‘stole’ one of his highest grossing records, relying on minor tampering and an additional sample to stray away from its predecessor.
This isn’t the first time Lamar’s faced copyright issues. In 2013 he was sued for using a Bill Withers sample without permission, audible in his track ‘I Do This’.
With the situation evolving, and Kendrick having not made a comment at the time of publication, the potential origin of the song remains unknown.
Words by Tom Moorcroft
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