Ariana Grande is being sued for copyright infringement over her single, “The Way.”
Featuring Pittsburgh-born rapper Mac Miller, “The Way” spent 26 weeks in the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100. The single made Grande the first top 10 arrival for a lead female artist making her first appearance on the Hot 100 since French-Israeli singer Yael Naim (“New Soul”) in 2008.
But according to Minder Music, an independent music publishing company that owns the rights to songs written and recorded by New York-based group the Jimmy Castor Bunch, the song copies a well-known lyric from their 1972 song “Troglodyte (Cave Man).”
The suit focuses on the lyric, “What we gotta do right here is go back, back in time.”
A line in “Troglodyte” says, “What we’re gonna do right here is go back, way back, back in time.”
Minder Music claims that the similarity of the lyrics, vocal style, and rhythm make it obvious that “The Way” copied from “Troglodyte,” the Jimmy Castor Bunch’s biggest hit single. The song peaked at #4 on the R&B charts and #6 on the Billboard Hot 100.
“The record begins with a spoken narrative,” Minder Music co-founder John Fogarty said. “The minute you hear it, everybody knows it’s from ‘Troglodyte.'”
However, Ariana Grande’s legal team said that the 20-year-old did not provide the lyric, which is said by Mac Miller — who is also named in the suit under his real name, Malcolm James McCormick — at the beginning of the song.
“The alleged offending materials were not provided by Ariana, and we trust that the co-writers and producers will resolve the claim with Minder,” Grande’s legal team said in a statement.
The lawsuit also names Blue Slide Park Music, Republic Records, UMG Recordings, Universal Music Group, EMI April Music, Inc., Sony, BMG Rights Management and Songs of Kobalt Music Publishing.
“Troglodyte” was sampled in the opening of Blackstreet’s song, “Don’t Leave Me,” from their 1996 album Another Level. The song is also sampled in “Back in the Day” by Christina Aguilera from her 2006 album Back to Basics. “Troglodyte” has also been sampled by N.W.A., Kool Moe Doe, Ginuwine, and others.