Kanye West is facing a copyright lawsuit over allegations that his song ‘Life Of The Party’ samples a Boogie Down Productions track without permission.
‘Life Of The Party’ features André 3000, and was released on West’s Stem Player device as part of the deluxe edition of his 2021 album ‘DONDA’. Phase One Network — the management company overseeing Boogie Down’s music catalogue — has since claimed that the song uses elements of the hip-hop group’s 1987 track, ‘South Bronx’.
The lawsuit alleges that West initially sought permission to sample ‘South Bronx’ in July of last year, but retracted this request in November 2021, after both parties failed to agree upon an authorised use of the song. By that point, the rapper had already released ‘DONDA’, which arrived alongside its deluxe songs in August 2021.
According to Rolling Stone, the lawsuit cites ‘Life Of The Party’’s “exact reproduction” of the ‘South Bronx’ horn hits, melodic figures and drum fills as evidence of infringement. The lawsuit also claims that West and his team used ‘Life Of The Party’ to promote both ‘DONDA’ and the Stem Player, and requests that further usage of the song be blocked.
“By illegally incorporating ‘South Bronx’ into the Infringing Track and authorising the distribution of the Infringing Track through the Stem Player and its associated website, all Defendants have allowed for the widespread distribution of the Infringing Track,” court documents read.
West is named as a defendant alongside record labels G.O.O.D. Music, Universal Music Group Recordings and Def Jam Recordings, the last of which he was signed to at the time of ‘DONDA’’s release. Also named is Stem Player CEO and co-founder Alex Klein, with whom West collaborated to launch the device in 2021. Responding to the lawsuit, a STEM spokesman told Rolling Stone, “We just heard about this claim, and we are investigating it now.”
“The KANO and STEM team were assured by Kanye and Yeezy that they would provide music with ‘all intellectual property rights, licences and consents’. This was important to us, because STEM is built from the ground up to be a more fair and immersive medium than the current music business. On STEM, creators own and control their own work, pricing, rights, and distribution in full,” the spokesperson said.
The ‘South Bronx’ lawsuit comes amid a slew of other legal battles aimed at West in recent months. Earlier this year, he faced two lawsuits pertaining to ‘DONDA’ copyright infringement on the songs ‘Flowers’ and ‘Come to Life’. In July, West was sued by an LA production company over claims of unpaid fees relating to his ‘Donda 2’ livestream and his cancelled Coachella 2022 appearance, among other events.
More recently, the family of police brutality victim George Floyd were reported to be preparing a defamation lawsuit against West, after he made false and inflammatory comments about Floyd’s death in an October interview.