NEW ORLEANS (CN) – The estate of Big Easy rapper Messy Mya claims in court Beyonce sampled two of his songs without permission and incorporated those samples into her hit song and album “Formation.”
Messy Mya, whose given name was Anthony Barré, was shot and killed in 2010.
In a lawsuit filed in the Eastern District of Louisiana Monday night, the estate claims Beyonce sampled words and music from Barré’s “Booking the Hoes from New Wildings” and “A 27 Piece Huh,” and used them in “Formation” without permission or acknowledging the source.
The estate is seeking $20 million in back royalties and other damages “for infringement and misappropriation of Anthony Barré’s actual voice, copyrighted works, and other intellectual property,” the complaint says.
In addition to Beyonce, the defendants include her husband, Jay Z, Sony Music, and various publishing and affiliated companies.
The estate claims it tried talking to Beyonce about the samples, only to have her blow it off.
They claim she not only used Barré’s words, but his actual voice saying the phrases, “I like that,” “What happened at the New Orleans,” and “Bitch, I’m back by popular demand.”
“Defendants used Mr. Barré’s voice, performance and words from his copyrighted works to create the tone, mood, setting and location of the New Orleans-themed “Formation” video and audio recordings,” the lawsuit says.
Filed by the rapper’s sister, Angel Barre, the complaint says everyone – even the New Yorker – realized the sample was from Messy Mya’s recordings, and yet Beyonce will not acknowledge this.
“Despite reports in the New Yorker, music industry publications and that a multitude of Internet publications knew that Mr. Barré’s voice and words were copied and used in “Formation,” defendants have not acknowledged his contribution, obtained permission to use his copyrighted voice, performance and words, nor provided compensation to his estate,” the lawsuit says.
The “Formation” album includes an audio and video recording, the latter begins with the voice of Anthony Barré saying “What happened at the New Orleans” and “Bitch I’m back, by popular demand.” Formation also includes Barré saying “Oh yeah Baby.”
The album has been certified gold, signifying the sale of at least 500,000 copies.
Barré was known for his performances and raw comedy performances on YouTube before he was gunned down during a block party in New Orleans 7th Ward in 2010.
The 22-year-old had just left a baby shower thrown for him and his girlfriend for their unborn son when he was hit by a barrage of bullets on a street where he regularly performed.
Barré was famous for the line, “Follow me camera”, as he traversed the City of New Orleans and traveled deeply into the gay, lesbian and transgender communities. He was also very closely associated with New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and its impacts upon black New Orleans and the gay, lesbian and transgender communities. His YouTube videos have been viewed more than 2 million times.
Barré’s childhood was marred by tragedy. When he was 13, his mother, Crystal Janice Barre, was shot to death by a boyfriend, while he and his sister were in the house.
In 2008, his grandfather, Stan “Pampy” Barre, was convicted in a City Hall kickback scheme, for which he was sent to prison.
“He had been traumatized,” a close friend, Angelle Mosely, told the Times-Picayune. “So, yeah, he would drink and smoke and play all day long. But he never wanted to harm nobody.”
Barre’s funeral was so packed it was described as “sold out.” Fellow bounce artist Big Freedia spoke.
At the funeral, his godmother said Barre had channeled the grief he experienced in life into his music and comedy.
“I believe that he decided to live in a world of his own creation,” his godmother said, according to the Times-Picayune. “He was fierce, fearless, unique and dedicated to living his dreams.”
The lawsuit was filed by John Etter of Rodney & Etter in New Orleans.
Representatives of the Beyonce could not be reached for comment.