Beyonce has some explaining to do after the estate of slain New Orleans rapper Messy Mya waged a $20 million lawsuit over what they claim is a copyright violation in her hit song “Formation.” She is also accused of using his catchphrases during the Formation World Tour and for using another clip in “Lemonade.”
The family of Anthony Barré, who was definitely better known to New Orleanians as Messy Mya, are claiming that Beyonce lifted a very short but well-known phrase from the 2010 video for “A 27 Piece Huh?” Now they want the megastar to pay up for failing to get permission first. Messy Mya was known for walking the streets of New Orleans with a video camera and subjecting others to some rather mean-spirited, albeit funny “reads.”
In the lawsuit filed by Angel Barré, Messy Mya’s estate is suing both Beyonce and her record label Sony Universal as defendants. When it comes to Beyonce’s hit “Formation,” fans of Messy Mya might agree that he would have loved the song. However, using the dead bounce rapper’s voice in the song without permission doesn’t sit well with his estate. They are upset that Barré’s likeness has been used by Beyonce but he didn’t receive any compensation or even get credit for lending his famous voice. The lawsuit alleges that giving Messy Mya credit would “not have only generated substantial revenues, but it would have generated international recognition for Anthony Barre’s performance works and as a contributor to a worldwide hit song.”
— Affinity Magazine (@TheAffinityMag) February 8, 2017
Representatives of the Messy Mya estate claim that they tried to talk to Beyonce about the “Formation” ripoff before eventually filing a lawsuit according to TMZ. They say that Queen Bey didn’t seem concerned over the alleged copyright infringement, forcing them to file a lawsuit in order to resolve the issue. Barré claims that she contacted Beyonce’s people back in October of 2016 to secure proper licensing for the usage of Messy Mya’s voice, catch phrases and for imitating them during the live concerts. She said that both sides couldn’t agree on the terms.
There are also accusations that Beyonce lifted another Messy Mya sound byte from an entirely different video titled “Booking the Hoes of New Wildings.” In this video, Barré says both “What happened in the New Orleans?” and “B***h I’m back…by popular demand” can be heard right at the 4:10 mark. Now if you listen to “Formation,” you can hear Messy Mya’s voice saying exactly the same thing right at the beginning of the song. Just be forwarned that Messy Mya’s booking is NSFW and full of expletives.
— News by Amanda (@amandasome) February 7, 2017
The lawsuit also charges Beyonce of lifting another Messy Mya sound clip that was played during her live concerts. They say that the slain bounce rapper’s voice could be heard saying “Oh yeah baby, I like that” during transitions in the show. The suit also claims that another famous New Orleans bounce rapper Big Freedia imitated Messy Mya’s voice and phrase “B***h I’m back..by popular demand” during the Formation World Tour in New Orleans and Houston according to the Times-Picayune. The phrase was used throughout the tour, and other male celebrities were said to have imitated Messy Mya during those shows. According to the lawsuit, this happened about four minutes into the show.
Messy Mya was murdered in New Orleans in 2010 as he left a baby shower for his then-unborn son. Someone at the party took a picture of the local celebrity as he lay dying from a gunshot wound. That picture was passed around social media despite the shock and outrage of his family and friends. Soon after his death, a man was arrested on suspicion of killing the YouTube star, but after three years between being jailed and house in a psychiatric unit, he was cleared of the murder. New Orleans police said in 2013 that another man confessed to the shooting and that ballistics matched a gun that was recovered, but his name was not released.
So far, no one from Beyonce’s camp is commenting on the Messy Mya lawsuit. Check out her “Formation” music video to hear his voice right at the beginning of the clip and tell us if you think Beyonce is responsible for paying up for failing to secure licensing before making the New Orleans fixture’s voice and famous words such a huge part of her song.
[Featured Image by Matt Cowan/Getty Images]