If you thought that was Rick Astley singing in Yung Gravy‘s “Betty (Get Money),” you aren’t alone — and Astley is taking the rapper to court because of that.
The song interpolates, not samples, Astley’s 1987 hit “Never Gonna Give You Up,” and Billboard says that’s the root of the issue.
“In an effort to capitalize off of the immense popularity and goodwill of Mr. Astley, defendants … conspired to include a deliberate and nearly indistinguishable imitation of Mr. Astley’s voice throughout the song,” his lawyers wrote in a lawsuit that was filed Thursday. “The public could not tell the difference. The imitation of Mr. Astley’s voice was so successful the public believed it was actually Mr. Astley singing.”
Yung Gravy allegedly licensed just the song’s composition, which Astley’s lawyers argue “does not authorize the stealing of the artist’s voice in the original recording.”
Astley’s lawyers say the rapper hired Nick Seeley, know as Popnick, to imitate the ’80s icon in the song. They claimed Popnick said on Instagram Live that he wanted to “sound identical” to Astley.
“They resorted to theft of Mr. Astley’s voice without a license and without agreement,” Astley’s team argued.
They accuse Yung Gravy of violation of right to publicity, which protects one’s ability to control how their name, image and likeness is used by others. Bette Midler used a similar claim in a 1988 suit that she won against Ford Motor Co. for hiring an impersonator in their commercials.
Astley’s lawyers are also accusing Yung Gravy of violating federal trademark law by claiming to Billboard that Astley endorsed the song. “These statements were all false,” his team said.
Yung Gravy’s representatives have not responded to the lawsuit.
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