Hip-Hop/Pop star Nicki Minaj is among the world's most recognizable musicians today. The New York native has sold over five million albums since her career began in 2009 on Lil Wayne's Young Money label. Among her famous singles are songs like "Your Love," "Moment 4 Life," "Super Bass," and her biggest crossover hit single "Starships." According to a lawsuit, the last single on the list is not really Minaj's.
Electro star Clive Tanaka filed a lawsuit against Nicki Minaj, real name Onika Tanya Maraj, in U.S. District Court in Chicago on Tuesday. Tanka claims that Minaj used parts of his 2001 song "Neu Chicago" in "Starships." Tanka's song comes from his debut album "Jet Set Siempre No.1" that was released in 2011.
Tanka, who has never performed in public during his career or revealed his real name, also said in the suit that Minaj's collaborators and RedOne, who is a Moroccan producer named in the suit, are citizens of Sweden, where Tanaka's song was being used in television advertisements for different brands. Carl Falk, Wayne Hector and Rami Yacoub were also named in the suit. The suit is asking for all the profits that the defendants have made from the song's broadcast and sale, which could be in the seven figure range in low estimates.
According to the Chicago Tribune, Tanaka filed the suit under his company's name Tanaka Light Industries USA, which listed their business address as the West Side of Chicago. Tanaka's attorney Christopher Niro said that Tanaka was "working on a new album and screenplay," in South America according to Niro. "Argentina, from what I was told," Niro said. "He's kind of a reclusive - he makes and produces music and that's his goal." The only information about the Niro in the suit that was filed was that he was born in 1976 and he is a U.S. citizen.
"We believe [the songs] are similar to the point that it is nearly impossible for it to be a coincidence," Niro continued.
"Starships" set a Billboard record last year when it was on the Top 10 singles list for 21 consecutive weeks. It sold seven million copies and reached the charts in a dozen countries, so Tanaka may be in line for a major payday if he is successful or Minaj's camp wants to settle. There has been no response from Minaj's representatives.
This is the latest copyright infringement lawsuit that has hit the music industry. A few weeks ago, it was reported that the family of the late Marvin Gaye would be pursuing legal action against Robin Thicke for copying Gaye's classic "Got To Give It Up" and turning it into the hit song "Blurred Lines." Litigation is ongoing in that case.
Listen to both songs below to judge for yourself
"Neu Chicago" from Clive Tananka
"Starships" from Nicki Minaj