Rick Astley sues Yung Gravy for impersonating his voice from 'Never Gonna Give You Up'
Rick Astley is suing rapper Yung Gravy for allegedly impersonating his voice from his iconic hit "Never Gonna Give You Up."
In a complaint filed to Los Angeles Superior Court on Thursday, Astley's lawyers accuse Yung Gravy, his producers and Republic Records of "flagrantly" impersonating the 56-year-old singer on the rapper's latest track "Betty (Get Money)" and "falsely stating" that Astley endorsed the June-released song.
"In an effort to capitalize off of the immense popularity and goodwill of Mr. Astley, Defendants recorded and released the song," Astley's lawyers write. "(They) conspired to include a deliberate and nearly indistinguishable imitation of Mr. Astley’s voice throughout the song. This was a deliberate theft of Mr. Astley’s voice because, admittedly, Defendants were unable to obtain a license for a sample."
"Betty (Get Money)" opens with a snippet of what sounds like Astley's 1987 hit before Yung Gravy takes the rhythms and melodies to rap about his lifestyle as a ladies' man and wealth.
Yung Gravy discussed remaking Astley's "Give You Up" in an interview with Billboard in August saying that he and his team "basically remade the whole song" so it could be used for the single.
"I always thought that sample would be sick to do something with. I just never figured it was clearable. Somebody who had part-ownership of the rights to the sample hit me up like ... 'you should try it out,' " Yung Gravy said. "(We) had a different singer and instruments, but it was all really close because it makes it easier legally."
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He added: "Overall, it’s kinda the same thing, but there’s a dirty version that sounds like a Gravy song with more cuss words."
USA TODAY reached out to Yung Gravy's representatives for a statement.
"Defendants, knowing that they did not have an agreement to use the actual sounds of Mr. Astley’s voice from the sound recording ... conspired among themselves to intentionally steal Mr. Astley’s voice," the complaint read. "While such a feat obviously takes an immense amount of talent and skill, it also blatantly spits in the face of Mr. Astley’s rights."
Astley's attorney, Richard S. Busch, has worked on many music infringement cases including the litigation around Pharrell and Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines" case which resulted in the musicians paying more than $5 million to Marvin Gaye's family in 2018.
The complaint is seeking a trial by jury for damages to be determined by the court but believed to be "in the millions of dollars."
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Rick Astley sues Yung Gravy for copying 'Never Gonna Give You Up' song