Drake Sued Over Sample on ‘Honestly, Nevermind’ Song ‘Calling My Name’ – Billboard
Written by GRB on 20/04/2023
Drake is facing a new copyright lawsuit claiming he used an unlicensed sample from the song of a Ghanaian rapper on his chart-topping 2022 album, Honestly, Nevermind.
In a case filed Tuesday (April 18) in Manhattan federal court, an artist named Obrafour (real name Michael Elliot Kwabena Okyere Darko) claims Honestly, Nevermind track “Calling My Name” features a short clip of a vocal phrase — “Killer cut, blood, killer cut” — that was pulled directly from Obrafour’s earlier song, “Oye Ohene.”
Unlike many such cases, Obrafour claims to have smoking gun evidence: An email from someone at Republic Records seeking to clear the clip. The June 2022 note allegedly admitted that Drake had already “used samples from the above referenced song” and wanted permission to release it.
But according to the lawsuit, Drake’s album and song — complete with the unlicensed sample — were released just nine days later, before Obrafour had a chance to respond to the email.
“Defendants continue to engage in infringement, despite acknowledging that they needed to secure rights and authorization from Obrafour,” lawyers for the Ghanaian rapper wrote. “Defendants have never accounted to, credited, or otherwise compensated Obrafour for their unauthorized use of the copyrighted work.”
Honestly, Nevermind, which was surprise-released on June 17, 2022, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and spent 43 weeks on the chart, though “Calling My Name” was less successful; the track debuted at No. 20 on the Hot 100 but dropped off the following week.
According to his lawsuit, Obrafour received an email nine days earlier bearing the subject line: “Drake ‘Darkness’ (working title) contains samples from ‘Oye Ohene’ Ft Tinny written and performed by Obrafour.”
The sender told Obrafour that they were “currently working on a sample clearance for Republic recording artist Drake” and were seeking “consent for both the master rights and publishing rights” to the clip. On June 13, Obrafuour received a second email that read: “Hi confirming you received this email thanks.”
Then he, says, the album dropped.
“Obrafour had not yet responded to the June 8, 2022 clearance email or the follow-up June 13, 2022 clearance email at the point when Drake’s ‘Honestly, Nevermind’ album was released,” his lawyers wrote in the complaint. “Nonetheless, the infringing work is one of the songs appearing on the “Honestly, Nevermind” album, as released to the world by ‘surprise’ on June 17, 2022.”
Reps for Drake and Republic Records did not immediately return requests for comment.