It would appear that even Beyoncé is fallible. In a rather unusual and out-of-character turn of events, Beyoncé is being sued for a sample used in “Formation” to the tune of $20 million. Whoa.
The sample in question involves the words of New Orleans resident Anthony Barré, a pop singer who went by the stage name Messy Mya, that were used in a 2010 YouTube video of his. The allegations revolve around the fact that in “Formation,” around the one-minute mark, you can hear a voice say, “Oh yeah, I like that,” repeatedly. This voice is strikingly similar to the one in Barré’s 2010 YouTube video “A 27-Piece, Huh?”
The claim goes that Beyoncé used the snippet without getting his permission to use it. Unfortunately, Beyoncé would have been unable to get permission from the get-go because Barré was shot and killed in 2010. Thus, permission would have been unobtainable under those circumstances. This could prove to be quite the pickle for Beyoncé to have landed in.
But this legal battle over a few lines of dialogue is actually an incredibly unusual thing to happen to Beyoncé. While it may seem laughable that she is being sued for such an exorbitant amount, it is right that she should come under legal scrutiny. However, Beyoncé was so freaking thorough in other songs with giving credit where credit was due. For her or someone on her team to overlook obtaining permission to use a sample feels remiss.
In the interest of comparing and contrasting the videos, have a listen. As luck would have it, both the sample in the above “Formation” video and the words in the Messy Mya video below happen around the one-minute mark. It is almost unmistakable: The allegations that Beyoncé lifted the sample appear to be backed up by the Messy Mya video.
What’s even wilder is that this is not the first bit of legal trouble Lemonade has landed itself in. While the case was thrown out by a judge in New York, filmmaker Matthew Fulks sued Beyoncé for the visual album’s trailer, which he believe bore a striking (if not exact) resemblance to his short film Palinoia.
It seems like when your name is Beyoncé, literally anything can happen to you.
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