Travis Scott, Metro Boomin, and James Blake Face Copyright Suit Over Alleged Unauthorized Sample

travis scott lawsuit
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travis scott lawsuit
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A live performance from Travis Scott, who’s facing a copyright lawsuit for allegedly sampling a work without permission. Photo Credit: Frank Schwichtenberg

Travis Scott, Metro Boomin, Sony Music Publishing, and others are facing a copyright infringement lawsuit for allegedly sampling a track without permission on Utopia.

Dion Norman and Derrick Ordogne, who more than three decades back penned (and themselves recorded, per the suit, though the work’s most popular version is attributed to DJ Jimi) a track entitled “Bitches (Reply),” submitted the complaint to a Louisiana federal court late last month.

Just now entering the media spotlight, the action lists as defendants the above-noted acts and company as well as James Blake and Sony Music Entertainment proper.

The relatively straightforward suit towards its start emphasizes the seemingly large number of artists who have over the years sampled “Bitches (Reply),” ostensibly “the ultimate source of music sampling and interpolation in Rap/Hip Hop.”

(Registered with the Copyright Office, number SR0000863597, this work is described on the appropriate page as a “sound recording and music.” The same resource mentions both plaintiffs’ “authorship” of the involved “sound recording, music, [and] lyrics.”)

Recorded by DJ Jimi, once again, the track is said to have made its way into efforts from Cardi B (a sample within a sample, that is), Lil Wayne, Kid Cudi, Beyoncé, and Diddy, to name some. Norman and Ordogne look to have songwriting credits on a portion of these projects, highlighted alongside others in the legal text.

Predictably, given this newly submitted complaint, the plaintiffs aren’t credited on the relevant Travis Scott releases, however. Norman and Ordogne maintain that “Bitches (Reply)” was sampled without permission in two songs: Scott’s six-year-old “Stargazing” and “Til Further Notice,” which features James Blake as well as 21 Savage and is the final track on Utopia.

(Blake’s also credited as a producer and a songwriter, and Metro Boomin possesses both production and songwriting credits on “Til Further Notice” as well. Scott’s listed as a songwriter but not a producer, as is 21 Savage, who isn’t a party to the complaint in any event.)

Despite having only become available to fans in late July of 2023, “Til Further Notice” has close to 100 million Spotify streams at present. And as the plaintiff creators see it, the five-minute Scott song samples their relevant work – referring specifically to the central “Yeah, yeah, yeah” lyric – and includes the line with a “manipulated” pitch and tone.

Once again according to the suing parties, the defendants “admitted to the unauthorized use” when they “had a sample clearance vendor” reach out “about clearing the subject sample and interpolated use after the release of” Utopia.

Needless to say, this purported post-release overture failed to bring about the desired resolution for the defendants, who are grappling with calls to cough up, among other things, actual damages. At the time of writing, Travis Scott, Metro Boomin, and James Blake didn’t appear to have responded to the complaint on Twitter/X.