Nicki Minaj to pay Tracy Chapman $450K for sampling ‘Baby Can I Hold You’ without permission

Nelson Oliveira, New York Daily News on

Published in Entertainment News

Singers Nicki Minaj and Tracy Chapman have settled a bitter lawsuit over Minaj’s sampling of the 1988 hit song “Baby Can I Hold You.”

Chapman decided to accept the rapper’s $450,000 offer to resolve the civil case, ending a two-year dispute and avoiding an even costlier trial, according to federal court records obtained by the Daily News.

The lawsuit accused Minaj of copyright infringement for sampling Chapman’s song in her 2018 tune “Sorry,” which leaked on social media and almost made it into Minaj’s album “Queen.”

Minaj’s version features rapper Nas and includes several verses from Chapman’s original track.

Minaj and her agents did make multiple requests to license the song in summer 2018 —even though she had already recorded her version “without the requested license,” the lawsuit alleged. Chapman repeatedly denied the requests, but Minaj provided a copy of “Sorry” to a popular DJ who later shared a link to the recording on Twitter, according to complaint.

“Shhhhhhh!!!! TONIGHT 7PM!!! I GOT SOMETHING!!!” Funkmaster Flex teased on social media hours before tweeting the link, the lawsuit states.


The link would take users to a website that, until recently, included an embedded video player with the song “Sorry,” Chapman’s lawyers said.

“The fact that the Infringing Work does not appear on Queen does not relieve Maraj of liability to Chapman for her infringement or make Maraj’s wrongdoing any less deliberate and willful,” they wrote in the lawsuit.

“As a result of Maraj’s actions, the Infringing Work is available through multiple websites hosted by Internet service providers all of the world,” they said.

The $450,000 settlement, filed Thursday in California federal court, covers all costs and attorney fees incurred to date.


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