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Bad Bunny sued for allegedly sampling pioneering reggaeton mixtapes without permission

By | Published on Tuesday 5 October 2021

Bad Bunny

Bad Bunny has been sued over allegedly uncleared samples on his track ‘Safaera’, which appeared on his 2020 album ‘YHLQMDLG’.

The lawsuit has been filed by BM Records, which was an early champion of the reggaeton genre as it was first emerging in Puerto Rico in the 1990s. Of particular note, it released a series of influential mixtapes by DJ Playero, from which it now argues Bad Bunny borrowed when making ‘Safaera’.

In its lawsuit, BM Records notes how a Pitchfork review called ‘Safaera’ “a five-minute tribute to DJ Playero’s genre defining mixtapes of the 1990s”, while another review dubbed it “a journey through DJ Playero style underground – complete with cut-and-paste sampling”.

Yet, the label claims, while other samples used in the Bad Bunny track were seemingly licensed – although it did drop off Spotify for a short time in May 2020 because of another sample dispute – no such licences were acquired for those elements of the record that were directly lifted from DJ Playero’s oeuvre.

Says the lawsuit: “‘Safaera’ includes samples of various third-party compositions and sound recordings. On information and belief, defendants were well aware of the need to ‘clear’ the various third-party works sampled on ‘Safaera’ by obtaining licences to each, as demonstrated by the fact that, for example … Missy Elliot is credited as a writer on ‘Safaera’ due to its sampling of her hit song ‘Get Ur Freak On'”.

However, it then adds, “at no point did defendants ever ‘clear’ the Playero works for use on ‘Safaera'”, even though – it reckons – there are four samples taken from three Playero works: ‘Chocha Con Bicho’, ‘Besa Tu Cuerpo’ and ‘Sigan Bailando’.

The lawsuit – which targets Bad Bunny, his collaborators and their business partners – is seeking actual or statutory damages, legal costs and an injunction “prohibiting the continued infringement of the Playero works”.

Bad Bunny is yet to respond to the lawsuit. Though ‘YHLQMDLG’ does stand for ‘Yo Hago Lo Que Me Da La Gana’ which basically means ‘I Do Whatever I Want’. So maybe that will be his defence.