Beyonce Sued Over 'Formation'

Song included a sample from rapper, his sister says permission wasn't given
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 8, 2017 10:48 AM CST

Beyonce sampled New Orleans bounce rapper Messy Mya in her wildly popular "Formation," and now, a year after the song was released, Mya's sister is suing, TMZ reports. Angel Barre says that Beyonce did not get permission to use the "voice, performance, and words" of her brother, who was born Anthony Barre. He was shot and killed on Nov. 14, 2010, in New Orleans at age 22, and the Advocate reports that many saw Beyonce's inclusion of him in her song and its NOLA-centered music video as an homage. Mya was a street comic known for YouTube videos in which he rapped and roasted people. Beyonce used two of his lines from one of his videos to open "Formation," and also sampled a line from another video in which he talks to a woman on the street about her hair, telling her, "I like that."

Angel Barre says in her federal copyright infringement lawsuit that Beyonce used her brother's line "to create the tone, mood, setting and location of the New Orleans-themed 'Formation,'" and that not only did she fail to get permission, she also did not acknowledge Mya's contribution. She wants more than $20 million in damages, plus royalties and credits for her brother. Shortly after the "Formation" video came out last year, Shantrelle Lewis took issue with the entire video in Slate. Of Beyonce's use of Mya in the song, she wrote, "The city has had the highest or one of the highest murder rates in the country since I was a child. In focusing on black New Orleanian lives, it would have been easy for Beyoncé to dedicate 'Formation' to Messy Mya and other victims of gun violence. She provided no context for his life or death." (Read more Beyonce stories.)

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