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Uncleared sample lawsuit over tracks on Drake’s Scorpion album is refiled

By | Published on Friday 4 March 2022


A new lawsuit has been filed in relation to an ongoing dispute over an allegedly uncleared sample that appears on not one but two tracks on Drake’s 2018 album ‘Scorpion’. The new legal filing makes some extra claims about the co-producer of those tracks and his separate use of the allegedly infringing sample on records by Big Freedia.

Samuel Nicholas III – who performs as Sam Skully – first went legal in 2019. He claims that the beat which appears in Drake tracks ‘In My Feelings’ and ‘Nice For What’ was nabbed from his 2000 song ‘Roll Call’. That earlier track – and an instrumental version of it – both appear on his 2000 album ‘Vockah Redu And Tha Crew Can’t Be Stopped’.

Nicholas’s lawsuit accuses producer Adam Pigott – aka Blaqnmild – of nabbing his beat for the Drake tracks and other productions he has worked on. Both the 2019 lawsuit – and the new one – cite a 2018 Genius News interview on YouTube in which Pigott talks about how he used what he calls “that beat” in the two Drake tracks, having previously used the same beat when producing for artists like Big Freedia and Magnolia Shorty.

The lawsuits state: “The video interview reproduced an approximately eighteen second sound clip of ‘that beat’ while displaying an audio spectrum of it, labeled ‘blaq _ bouncebeat.wav’. When plaintiff Samuel Nicholas III became aware of that YouTube video months later, he recognised ‘that beat’ to be an unauthorised copy of his copyrighted work ‘Roll Call (Instrumental)'”.

The new lawsuit filed with the courts in Louisiana this week is more or less the same as the 2019 lawsuit, although the list of defendants has changed a little, and some extra claims are made about Pigott and Big Freedia, aka Freddie Ross Jr.

In terms of the defendants, most notably Drake’s labels – including Universal Music’s Republic label – have been removed from the lawsuit, while the production company of the reality TV show that followed a chunk of Ross’s career – World Of Wonder Productions – has been added.

That show was mentioned in the original lawsuit, which stated: “Throughout the series there occur scenes of defendants Freddie Ross and Adam J Pigott in a recording studio adding what they call ‘that beat’ to various songs, and scenes of those songs being performed”.

Meanwhile the new lawsuit has some extra detail about that programme, in particular regarding what was said in it about the importance of the distinct beat in tracks made within the hip hop sub-genre known as ‘bounce’, with which Ross is closely associated.

The new legal filing states: “A major theme of the early seasons of the ‘Big Freedia: Queen Of Bounce’ reality TV series was the production and performance of ‘bounce’ music having a distinctive rhythm or ‘beat’, where the ‘beat’ was a direct copy of the copyrighted sound recording ‘Roll Call (Instrumental)’ authored by plaintiff Samuel Nicholas III”.

“The copyrighted music was not newly performed and was not otherwise significantly modified or interpreted”, it goes on, “but was directly copied to become the featured rhythm track of new ‘bounce’ works having the distinctive ‘bounce’ rhythm supplied by the direct copying of the copyrighted sound recording”.

Among the other additions to the new version of the lawsuit is the allegation that Pigott is claiming copyright ownership in the disputed beat. The lawsuit states: “Defendant Adam J Pigott claims a copyright in the work he identifies variously as ‘Roll Call Instrumental’, ‘Roll Call Beat Part 2.aiff’, ‘Roll Call (Instrumental).aiff’, and ‘that beat'”.

Obviously the core dispute here is between Nicolas and Pigott, which might be why Drake’s label has been removed from the litigation. Although Ross’s labels – Warner Music’s Asylum and East West – remain as defendants, as does Drake himself.