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Universal Faces Lawsuit Over Migos "Narcos" Sample

Keep On Kicking Music Ltd., a Florida-based label, filed a lawsuit against Universal Music Group on May 26th regarding a sample used in the Migos song "Narcos." The track heavily features music from Les Difficiles de Petion-Ville's song "Espoir Composition X"–in fact, 90% of the bars in the Migos track contain the sample–to which Keep On Kicking Music claims to own the rights. Sampling is nothing new, however, the claims against Universal state that the group did not get permission from the actual rights-holders to use that sample.

Photo and cover by The Come Up

According to the lawsuit, Quality Control Music with Universal Music Group entered a licensing agreement with Idaly Publishing to sample "Espoir Composition X" in 2018, but Idaly does not actually hold the rights to license that song. A letter from Idaly's attorney to UMG stating that Idaly "rescinds and relinquishes its claims to any of the music publishing rights, title or interest, including the copyright" regarding "Espoir Composition X" is being cited as further evidence in Keep On Kicking Music's case.

Photo by Charito Yap for The Come Up Show

Haitian band Les Difficiles de Petion-Ville recorded "Espoir Composition X" in 1978 with Robert Martino and released the song in France under the band's name. Allegedly, Martino registered the song with SACEM in France in 2000, and Keep on Kicking Music then bought the rights to the track. The lawsuit calls for $4 million in compensation from Universal Music Group and notes that BMI and ASCAP have declined to divert royalties from "Narcos" to Keep On Kicking Music without a court order.

Ultimately it is up to the court to make a final decision regarding the fate of "Narcos" and its use of "Espoir Composition X", but the suit sparks conversation around the rarity of paying rights to the wrong group and the importance of copyright surrounding sampling.

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1 Comment

Jade Fink
Jade Fink
Jun 14, 2023


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