Chapman's representatives said no when Minaj's representatives asked to use the song, court documents obtained by PEOPLE state
In documents obtained by PEOPLE, the “Fast Car” hitmaker, 54, accuses Minaj, 35, of including Chapman’s “Baby Can I Hold You,” which is copyrighted, in Minaj’s “Sorry” featuring Nas, which did not end up on Minaj’s album Queen.
“The Infringing Work incorporates the lyrics and vocal melody of the Composition, its most recognizable and memorable parts,” the lawsuit says. “The Composition’s lyrics and vocal melody comprise approximately half of the Infringing Work, and are easily recognizable and identifiable as Chapman’s.”
According to the lawsuit, the “Barbie Dreams” rapper (whose real name is Onika Tanya Maraj) had already recorded “Sorry” before her representatives asked Chapman’s representatives for permission to use “Baby Can I Hold You” several times. Chapman’s representatives said no, reports The Blast.
In July, Minaj’s manager emailed Chapman’s managers to ask if Minaj and Chapman could talk about an “idea that is one of the most personal for [Minaj] that was inspired by [Chapman’s] art.”
Days later, Minaj wrote in a since-deleted post —one of multiple tweets about the situation — that she “had no clue” that the song “sampled the legend #Tracy Chapman” and wondered whether to delay Queen‘s release, the lawsuit claims.
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Minaj allegedly gave a copy of “Sorry” to Funkmaster Flex, who played it on the radio and online. In August, the DJ tweeted, “NICKI GAVE ME SOMETHING!!!”
“Maraj wrongfully deprived Chapman of the right and opportunity to decide whether to allow the use of the Composition, and, if so, on what terms,” the lawsuit says. “Maraj, thus, has caused Chapman to incur substantial injury, loss and damage as a result of her wrongdoing.”
“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,” the lawsuit adds.
Reps for the singers did not immediately respond to request for comment.