Kanye West is facing a copyright lawsuit over allegations that his “Life of the Party” illegally sampled a song by the pioneering rap group Boogie Down Productions – the latest in a string of such infringement cases against the embattled rapper.
In a complaint filed Monday in New York federal court, Phase One Network (the group that owns Boogie Down’s copyrights) says Ye incorporated key aspects from the 1986 song “South Bronx” into “Life of the Party,” which was released in 2021 on West’s Stem Player streaming platform.
How do they know he did so? Phase One says West’s people reached out to clear the use of the Boogie Down song – and then released it anyway when a deal was never struck.
“The communications confirmed that ‘South Bronx’ had been incorporated into the infringing track even though West had yet to obtain such license,” Phase One’s lawyers wrote. “Despite the fact that final clearance for use of ‘South Bronx’ in the infringing track was never authorized, the infringing track wa nevertheless reproduced, sold, distributed, publicly performed and exploited.”
Amid his many, many other problems over the last year, West has been repeatedly sued for illegally sampling or interpolating in his tracks. In May, a Texas pastor named David P. Moten accused the rapper of sampling from his recorded sermon in “Come to Life.” In June he was sued again, that time for using a snippet of Marshall Jefferson’s 1986 house track “Move Your Body” in the song “Flowers.”
Though they’re coming at a faster clip in recent months, such lawsuits are nothing new for West. In 2019, he and Pusha T were sued for sampling George Jackson‘s “I Can’t Do Without You” on the track “Come Back Baby.” That same year, he was sued for allegedly using an audio snippet of a young girl praying in his 2016 song “Ultralight Beam.”
Further back, West was hit with similar cases over allegedly unlicensed samples used in “New Slaves,” “Bound 2,” “My Joy.” And thought he isn’t named in the case, Universal Music Group is currently facing a lawsuit that claims West used an initially-unlicensed sample of King Crimson’s 1969 “21st Century Schizoid Man” in his 2010 track “Power.”
In the new lawsuit, Phase One’s lawyers say West used an “exact reproduction” of “South Bronx,” featuring the song’s horn hits, a melodic figure and a drum fill. The company says it controls both the publishing and recording copyrights to the song, and accuses West of infringing both.
A spokesperson for West could not be located to comment on the new lawsuit. Multiple former press representatives for West have recently told Billboard that they no longer work with him.
Read the entire lawsuit here: