Nicki Minaj, Drake and Lil Wayne are arguably the most talented trio hip-hop has to offer. Unfortunately – at least for Nicki and Wayne – they do not always exercise the best business practices. Also, their record deal has been well-documented in the sense that unpaid royalties and payments have been owed to many Young Money/Cash Money artists for years.Recently, Nicki’s name popped up in headlines for the $450,000 settlement lawsuit against Tracy Chapman. Nicki Minaj sampled Chapman’s 1988 song, “Baby Can I Hold You” on her track “Sorry’ featuring Nas. The song did not make the cut for her fourth studio album, “Queen” but leaked on Funkmaster Flex. Nicki claimed that the suit was unjustifiable because she had no control of the song leak and that Chapman never owned the song. Chapman sued on the grounds of unpaid royalties from an unauthorized sample. As opposed to escalating to trial where additional fees would pile up, Chapman accepted the initial offering and won the case.
“Artists usually experiment with works before seeking licenses from rights holders and rights holders typically ask to see a proposed work before approving a license. A ruling uprooting these common practices would limit creativity and stifle innovation within the music industry.” (Judge Virginia Phillips)
Nicki also got hit with another lawsuit for her “Rich Sex” song on the same album, “Queen” by the likes of Brinx Billions. Nicki & Brinx first became acquainted on MySpace circa 2007. Nicki peered in on the “extremely marketable” song which was originally recorded by BB. Rather than collaboration, Nicki allegedly stole the song & made her own version. Brinx was listed as a writer and is seeking $200M from Universal Music Group, Young Money and Cash Money for damages.