Rapper Tyler, the Creator (“Tyler”), is facing a lawsuit for copyright infringement, which alleges he illegally sampled a 1971 soul song, “Why Can’t There Be Love,” in his 2015 hit, “Deathcamp.” The lawsuit was filed on March 23 in the Central District of California by Lela Weems, a descendant of songwriter, Herman Weems. Herman Weems composed the song and it was performed by Dee Edwards. According to the complaint, “Defendants failed to enter into any agreement with Plaintiff for the composition licenses for the Copyrighted Works.” However, Tyler does give a writing credit in the song’s notes to Weems.
Plaintiff seeks declaratory and injunctive relief, damages and statutory damages for willful copyright infringement which it characterizes as an “ongoing pervasive and willful theft of its copyrighted composition.” According to the complaint, Plaintiff has “urged Defendants to stop its infringing activities,” which they have purportedly failed to do. “Deathcamp” was the lead single on the rapper’s album, “Cherry Bomb,” which was released in 2015. The single was so popular that it reached No. 4 on the Billboard 200 list and was played over 1.6 million times on YouTube. “Cherry Bomb” was part of Tyler’s third studio album, released by Odd Future Records and Columbia Records, both of whom are also named as defendants in the complaint.
There are two sides to every story and this is just one. Stay tuned to see how the rapper responds to these allegations. The case is Weems v. Odd Future Records LLC et al., case number 2:18-cv-02373, in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.