Rapper Yung Gravy will be facing a multi-million dollar lawsuit from Rick Astley for his alleged impersonation of Rick’s iconic “Never Gonna Give You Up”.
In the latest single of the 26-year-old Minnesota-based rapper Yung Gravy, he has interpolated Rick’s 1987 hit song’s melody and impersonated the vocals.
According to the lawsuit, although the rapper was given the authorization to use the melody and lyrics of Never Gonna Give You Up, he was never authorized to use the “signature voice” of Rick Astley in his 2022 single – Betty Get Money.
Astley is suing Gravy for allegedly violating his “right of publicity” by imitating his signature voice on Yung Gravy’s song.
In the lawsuit, Rick Astley blames Yung Gravy and his collaborator Nick Seeley for conspiring to include a deliberate and nearly indistinguishable imitation of Astley’s voice.
He claims that there was a clear intention of capitalizing off of the immense popularity and goodwill of his song and himself.
The Law Is Clear In The Lights Of Old Case
Richard S. Busch will be one of the leading lawyers representing Astley in the legal battle.
Richard is renowned for winning the landmark copyright infringement case for Marvin Gaye’s family against Robin Thicke, Pharell, and T.I., over the song “Blurred Lines”.
In a statement made to Pitchfork by Busch, he claims that the law is clear on the issue since the Bette Midler case 30 years ago that nobody has the right to imitate or use original vocals in a new sound recording without prior permission.
Astley’s lawyers cite the Bette Midler case v Ford Motor co. where the company hired a voice actor to impersonate Midler after they could not hire Bette Midler for a series of commercials.
His lawyers argue that creators of a new recording need a license to copy the actual sounds of the voice from the original to sample them and that the defendants knew that to be the case but as Gravy said he tried but failed to obtain a sample for years so he resorted to the theft of Astley’s voice without a license or agreement.
Rick Astley does not own the rights to the track Never Gonna Give You Up. It is owned by Stock Aitken and Waterman, who gave Yung Gravy and his associates the right to use the track, however, they denied a request to sample it.
So the rapper was not authorized to replicate any of the sounds on the original song, which includes the vocals.
Yung Gravy had said that his intention in Betty Get Money was to replicate the sounds in Never Gonna Give You Up as close to the original as possible.
He claimed that they remade the whole song and that the statements made in the lawsuit were all false.
The song Never Gonna Give You Up gained new prominence recently by finding its place among popular internet memes where creators “rick-roll” or prank others unexpectedly through covert links to the song’s music video clippings.
Internet trolls post videos that rope in viewers with engaging content and suddenly cuts the scene to Astley’s song with the caption “You have been rickrolled”.
The song currently has over 1.3 billion views on YouTube, and its recent revival to fame has attracted many artists wanting to sample the song.
Born Matthew Raymond Hauri, the Minnesota-based rapper gained prominence in 2017 after his song ‘Mr. Clean’ went viral on Soundcloud.
He has a handful of platinum and gold hit songs and an increasingly growing social media presence with millions of followers on Instagram and TikTok.
His song Betty Get Money has amassed over 3 million views since it was posted on June 2022. It is certified gold in the US, Canada, and Australia and went up to 30 on the Billboard hot 100 a few months after its release.
I’ve been writing about LGBTQ issues for more than a decade as a journalist and content writer. I write about things that you care about. LGBTQ+ issues and intersectional topics, such as harmful stories about gender, sexuality, and other identities on the margins of society, I also write about mental health, social justice, and other things. I identify as queer, I’m asexual, I have HIV, and I just became a parent.