Beyonce Knowles is facing a $20 million copyright infringement lawsuit filed by the estate of late New Orleans rapper Messy Mya, who claims the pop megastar sampled his voice without permission on her hit song “Formation.”
The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in New Orleans, claims that the voice of Messy Mya — real name Anthony Barre — was sampled and included in the song and during Knowles’ world tour performances without the singer’s permission.
Barre was fatally shot in 2010.
According to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, the lawsuit encompasses the following alleged uses of Barre’s work.
- Messy Mya’s voice saying “What happened at the New Orleans?” and “B—- I’m back by popular demand” in the openings for both the audio and video recordings of “Formation.” Later in Beyonce’s song and video, Messy Mya’s voice can be heard saying “Oh yeah baby. I like that.”
- During the Formation World Tour, Messy Mya’s voice was heard saying “Oh yeah baby, I like that,” when Beyonce “and the other performers move from one area of the stage to another” about four minutes into the show, the suit said.
- Messy Mya’s words, “B—- I’m back by popular demand” were imitated by Big Freedia during the opening to performances of the Formation World Tour in New Orleans and Houston. In other cities on the tour, the words were imitated by male performers.
Barre’s sister, Angel Barre, named as defendants in the lawsuit the singer’s own Parkwood Entertainment, Sony, “Formation” music video director Melina Mastoukas, and the publishers of “Formation” and the studio album on which the song appears, Lemonade. Barre’s attorneys are demanding $20 million in damages for “willful copyright infringement, false endorsement, unfair trade practices and unjust enrichments,” the lawsuit states, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune.
The music video for “Formation” was a politically-charged ode to Black Lives Matter.
Beyonce performed the song during the Super Bowl 50 halftime show, alongside a group of backup dancers dressed as Black Panthers.
Follow Jerome Hudson on Twitter: @JeromeEHudson