- Rick Astley has accused rapper Yung Gravy of imitating his voice on the track “Betty” in a new lawsuit.
- Gravy and his team had the rights to interpolate, but not sample, Astley’s hit song “Never Gonna Give You Up.”
- Astley’s lawsuit alleges that the rapper and his team hired someone to “imitate” Astley’s vocals.
Rick Astley is suing Yung Gravy for imitating his vocals from “Never Gonna Give You Up” on the rapper’s hit track “Betty.”
The track peaked at number 30 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart last September, and was used in countless TikTok videos.
According to the lawsuit, which has been viewed by Insider, Astley is suing Gravy (real name Matthew Hauri) for violating his “right of publicity” in the new song. The suit also charges Gravy with violation of the Lanham act (described in the document as “false designation of origin; false endorsement”), unfair competition, violation of statute, and damages.
As the Guardian noted, Astley himself doesn’t own the “musical rights” to “Never Gonna Give You Up” — and owners Stock Aitken Waterman (a songwriting trio) did, in fact, give Gravy and his team the right to “interpolate” the track, which allowed Gravy to transform Astley’s song into a new composition.
The lawsuit filed Thursday in a Los Angeles court, however, accuses the rapper and his team of going one step further by having another musician named Popnick (real name Nick Seeley) recreate Astley’s vocals on the new song.
Gravy and his collaborators didn’t have the right to directly sample the 1987 hit, but the lawsuit accuses them of doing just that by having Popnick imitate Astley’s vocals for “Betty.”
“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,” Astley’s lawyers argued.
Per Astley’s lawyers, “the imitation of Mr. Astley’s voice was so successful the public believed it was actually Mr. Astley singing.”
“A license to use the original underlying musical composition does not authorize the stealing of the artist’s voice in the original recording,” they continued.
Astley is suing for profits and damages “believed to be in the millions of dollars,” according to the suit.
Insider has reached out to Astley’s lawyer, Richard S. Busch, for comment.