Is it too late to say “Sorry”? Via The Hollywood Reporter, Nicki Minaj has agreed to pay Tracy Chapman $450,000 to settle a copyright lawsuit over Minaj’s “Sorry”, which sampled Chapman’s “Baby Can I Hold You” without permission.
Minaj wrote the song with Nas for her 2018 album Queen. Initially, Her Pinkness didn’t know she had interpolated “Baby Can I Hold You”, only finding out shortly before the album’s release that, like a Russian nesting doll, one of her samples had itself sampled Chapman. Minaj pleaded with Chapman to clear the song over Twitter, to no avail.
Ultimately, Queen dropped without the offending track, and that might have been the end of it. However, Minaj allegedly leaked “Sorry” to Funkmaster Flex, after which it landed on the internet. The two women have been locked in legal battles ever since.
The most recent courtroom tussle came last September. U.S. District Court Judge Virginia Phillips made a narrow ruling in favor of Minaj, confirming that Barbz had a right to experiment with samples in the studio while setting up a new trial to investigate how the song came to be leaked. Perhaps Minaj would have won the next round, too, but there was quite a bit of evidence stacked against her, including an Instagram post from Funkmaster Flex in which he wrote, “NICKY GA VE ME SOMETHING!!! @nickiminaj ft @nas !!! (NOT ON HER ALBUM!) GONNA STOP THE CITY TONIGHT!!!!!!!!!!!!!” After that, it would have been hard for Minaj to prove she had nothing to do with the leak.
Now, the next trial won’t be necessary. Yesterday, January 7th, a California court made documents public reflecting that Chapman had accepted an offer made by Minaj. Minaj will fork over $450,000, hopefully putting the copyright issue to rest.
In recent months, Chapman has been more public and Minaj more private than they are accustomed to. In November, days before the American presidential election, Chapman made a rare TV appearance on Seth Meyers performing “Talkin’ Bout a Revolution”. As for Minaj, she recently gave birth to a baby boy, though she has found time to drop a 10th anniversary deluxe edition of Pink Friday and drag Bon Iver on Twitter.