Prior to the release of Yung Gravy's infectious track "Betty (Get Money)," it would be weird to put singer Rick Astley and rapper Yung Gravy in the same sentence. However, the latter's apparent affinity for the 1980s music icon gave way to the aforementioned hit track. But it seems as though Yung Gravy isn't exactly in Rick's good graces after releasing the track.
With that being said, why is Rick suing Yung Gravy? Let's unpack the situation as it currently stands.
Why is Rick Astley suing Yung Gravy?
According to Billboard, who obtained court records filed in Los Angeles, Rick is suing Yung Gravy for interpolating his song "Never Gonna Give You Up" on "Betty (Get Money)," alleging that Yung Gravy broke the law by impersonating Rick's voice.
"In an effort to capitalize off of the immense popularity and goodwill of Mr. Astley, defendants … conspired to include a deliberate and nearly indistinguishable imitation of Mr. Astley’s voice throughout the song," Rick's lawyers said.
The legal representative added that "The public could not tell the difference. The imitation of Mr. Astley’s voice was so successful the public believed it was actually Mr. Astley singing."
Yung Gravy received legal permission to use the underlying musical composition of "Give You Up," which Rick does not own. However, Yung Gravy could not legally use Rick's voice in sampling, so he hired producer Popnick to replicate it.
"A license to use the original underlying musical composition does not authorize the stealing of the artist’s voice in the original recording," Rick's lawyers said to that point. "So, instead, they resorted to theft of Mr. Astley’s voice without a license and without agreement."
The prosecution is citing precedent in the 1988 case of Bette Midler v. Ford Motor Co., where she alleged that the company copied her voice in an advertisement when they only had rights to the underlying composition.
On top of accusing Yung Gravy of blatantly copying him, Rick is also suing the rapper for violating federal trademark law by making false statements about his approval of the song.
During a Billboard interview, Yung Gravy said he spoke with Rick and that he approved of "Betty (Get Money)." Rick is claiming that this did not happen.