WASHINGTON • In a unique, Creole- inflected voice heard in the opening sample of Beyonce's hit single Formation off her statement album Lemonade, come the words, "What happened at the New Wildins?" and "B**, I'm back. By popular demand."
Also in the song is the same voice stating, "I like that". That distinctive voice belonged to the late Anthony Barre, better known in New Orleans as social media star- comic-bounce rapper Messy Mya, 22. His family claims Beyonce did not have permission to sample his voice.
According to the New Orleans Advocate, Barre's sister Angel has filed a lawsuit against the singer seeking more than US$20 million (S$28 million) in back royalties and other damages. The sample comes from a YouTube video by Messy Mya titled Booking The Hoes From New Wildin, which has been viewed more than two million times, and another titled A 27-Piece Huh?. He was murdered in 2010.
The estate allegedly reached out to Beyonce several times seeking compensation for the sample. Thus far, she has not responded to requests for comments from Pitchfork or Vulture website.
Given Lemonade's direct references to the lost lives of young black men and its deep links to Black Lives Matter, some found fitting the usage of images of Hurricane Katrina and the sampled voice of a semi-prominent young black man killed in, as FiveThirtyEight website noted, "a city where more than 100 black men are gunned down each year and hundreds more see their lives derailed by jail or prison".
Others, though, found these references to the city's tragedies offensive.