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Cardi B Wins Trial Over ‘Raunchy’ Mixtape Cover Art

A California man said he was "humiliated" after his back tattoo was edited into the rapper's risqué album cover, but a federal jury didn't buy it.

A federal jury on Friday (Oct. 21) found that Cardi B was not legally liable in a lawsuit filed by a California man whose back tattoos were unwittingly photoshopped onto a “raunchy” album cover, allowing the superstar to avoid millions of dollars in requested damages.

Following a four-day trial, the jurors said that Cardi (real name Belcalis Almánzar) did not violate Kevin Brophy’s rights with the bawdy cover of her 2016 mixtape Gangsta Bitch Music Vol. 1, which featured an image that he claimed made it appear he was performing oral sex on the now-superstar.


Brophy, who had sought $5 million in damages, testified during the trial that the image had been a “complete slap in the face” and had caused him “hurt and shame.” But jurors were clearly swayed by Cardi’s defenses — like the idea that nobody could even recognize him from the image of his back.

After the verdict, Cardi took to Twitter to celebrate her legal victory: “I just won this lawsuit …Im soo emotional right now,” the superstar wrote. “I wanna kiss Gods feet right now …..IM BEYOND GRATEFUL!!!!”

Released in 2016, the cover image of Gangsta Bitch certainly raised eyebrows. In it, the then-rising star is seen taking a swig of a large beer, staring directly into the camera with her legs spread wide and holding a man’s head while he appears to perform oral sex on her.

The actual man in the image was a model who had consented to the shoot, but a giant tattoo on the man’s back belonged to Brophy. Unbeknownst to Cardi, a freelance graphic designer had typed “back tattoos” into Google Image, found one that fit (Brophy’s), and Photoshopped it onto the model’s body. It apparently didn’t occur to him that he would need anyone’s approval to do so.

Brophy sued in 2017 for millions in damages, claiming he was “devastated, humiliated and embarrassed” by the cover. He claimed Cardi and others violated his so-called right of publicity by using his likeness without his consent, and also violated his right to privacy by casting him in a “false light” that was “highly offensive.”

Ahead of the trial, Cardi’s legal team argued those accusations were “sheer fantasy” and “vastly overblown” — and that Brophy was just suing her in an effort to “cash in the legal equivalent of a lotto ticket.” Her lawyers (Peter Anderson of Davis Wright Tremaine LLP and Lisa F. Moore of Moore Pequignot LLC) said nobody would have recognized a relatively unknown man based merely on his back, and that he has little proof anyone did.

Friday’s verdict came after four heated days of trial. Cardi took the witness stand on Wednesday, repeatedly sparring with Brophy’s attorney (A. Barry Cappello of Cappello & Noel LLP) demanding “receipts” to support Brophy’s claims, and accusing him and his lawyers of “harassing” her in hopes of scoring a settlement.

Brophy has options to appeal the verdict, if he so chooses: First by asking the judge to overturn the verdict, and then by taking the case to a federal appeals court.