Kendrick Lamar and The Weeknd Sued Over “Black Panther” Song

Yeasayer claims the song uses an unauthorized sample of their 2007 song "Sunrise"

The Weeknd and Kendrick Lamar
Kendrick Lamar joins The Weeknd on stage during the "Legends of The Fall Tour" in 2017.
Rich Fury/The Forum via Getty
By Bonnie Stiernberg / February 26, 2020 7:30 am

Yeasayer broke up last December, but they’ve reunited — sort of — to sue Kendrick Lamar and The Weeknd over their 2018 Black Panther soundtrack contribution, “Pray for Me.”

The Brooklyn band claims that “Pray for Me” contains an unauthorized sample of their 2007 song “Sunrise,” described in the lawsuit as “a distinctive choral performance … comprised of male voices singing in their highest registers, with animated, pulsing vibrato, and developed via distinctive audio post-processing.”

The suit, which names “Pray for Me” producers Frank Dukes and Doc McKinney in addition to Lamar and the Weeknd (real name Abel Makkonen Tesfaye), claims that the Black Panther song uses the snippet from “Sunrise” at least eight times and that it is “the primary feature of two complete verses, including the final verse.” Yeasayer also claims that the team behind “Pray for Me” “created an unauthorized derivative work” by “keeping the same number of voices in the same configuration, brightening the material, and temporarily condensing the copied portion while generally retaining the original’s pulsing vibrato.”

The band is seeking an undisclosed amount in damages and profits from “Pray for Me,” as well as an injunction to stop all sales and licensing of the song. You can listen to both “Pray for Me” and “Sunrise” to judge for yourself how similar the two are below.

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