Nicki Minaj and Tracy Chapman

Nicki Minaj to Pay Tracy Chapman $450,000 in Copyright Lawsuit

Nicki Minaj and Tracy Chapman have resolved a copyright dispute over Minaj’s sampling of Chapman’s “Baby Can I Hold You” on her leaked track “Sorry.”

According to documents filed in a California federal court this week, obtained by Pitchfork, Minaj offered to pay Chapman $450,000 including all costs and attorney fees related to the case. As a result, the two will not go to trial later this year and Chapman avoids being responsible for costs had the case gone to a jury.

Chapman filed the suit back in October 2018, claiming Minaj’s “Sorry” infringed upon her 1988 song “Baby Can I Hold You.” “Sorry,” a leftover from Minaj’s Queen album, surfaced online after being played on the radio by Hot 97’s Funkmaster Flex. Chapman alleges that the song uses half of the lyrics and vocal melody from “Baby Can I Hold You.”

According to Variety, Minaj tried to license Chapman’s composition despite knowledge that Chapman was on an unwritten list of artists that were known for not allowing samples of their works. Chapman rejected the request, but Minaj persisted, with the song eventually leaking.

In September 2020, Minaj was handed a small victory in the case when a judge said that the rapper did not commit copyright infringement when she wrote and recorded “Sorry” and had a fair use right to use the song to enable musical experimentation.

However, both sides eventually agreed that $450,000 was a reasonable amount for a copyright judgment.