Earlier this year, hip-hop fans rejoiced when two of the biggest names in the genre, Lil Nas X and Cardi B, joined forces to create a song. The track, which is called “Rodeo,” features Lil Nas X’s trademark fusion of trap and country music and an energetic guest verse from Cardi B. The song didn’t manage to become a hit, but the rapper’s troubles with the song might not end there. Lil Nas X and Cardi B have recently been accused of copyright infringement.
Lil Nas X and Cardi B’s ‘Rodeo’ causes controversy
Don Lee and Glen Keith DeMeritt III produced an instrumental with the memorable name “gwenXdonlee4-142.” In 2017, they incorporated this instrumental into a song with a less exciting title called “Broad Day” that they gave to the rappers PuertoReefa and Sakrite Duexe. Lee and DeMerritt claim that “Rodeo” steals the E, F, G, F, E chord progression from “Broad Day,” as well as other elements of their song’s instrumentation.
Although “Broad Day” did not become a hit, its producers alleged in the lawsuit that the track was “performed, published, and distributed widely, including without limitation in and around the Atlanta hip-hop scene,” according to Pitchfork. As Lil Nas X has his roots in Atlanta, the prosecution could make a plausible case that the rapper was familiar with the song.
Besides Lil Nas X and Cardi B, the lawsuit also names the producers of “Rodeo,” who are known by the collective pseudonym Take a Day Trip, and Lil Nas X’s label, Sony Music Entertainment. Lil Nas X has not publicly commented on this lawsuit.
Lil Nas X’s ‘Carry On’ lawsuit
This is not the first time that the rapper has faced this sort of suit. Earlier this year, R&B singer Bobby Caldwell claimed that Lil Nas X’s song “Carry On” plagiarized his 1982 song of the same name. Aside from sharing a title, both songs feature a chorus whose lyrics are “Carry on/Though it may be hard to understand it/You got to carry on/Carry on.” Aside from the chorus, the two songs have very different verses and instrumentation.
Caldwell is seeking $25 million; the singer wants $10 million in compensatory damages and an additional $15 million in punitive damages. Caldwell claims that Lil Nas X’s “Carry On” has permanently devalued the 1982 song “Carry On.” That lawsuit also targets Sony Music Entertainment, as Caldwell claims that the label was too focused on promoting Lil Nas X to properly vet his music.
Lil Nas X was not signed to Sony’s label at the time that he made the song, however, Caldwell still feels that the label neglected their responsibilities in allowing him to continue to distribute the song without clearing a sample of the earlier track. Lil Nas X’s “Carry On” was released online but wasn’t included in the EP 7, which is the rapper’s only release.
Many successful artists have been subjected to plagiarism lawsuits, but it must be especially disheartening for Lil Nas X to be hit with two plagiarism lawsuits this early in his career. The rapper’s debut single was released less than ten months ago.
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