Pop Smoke‘s posthumous debut, Shoot for the Stars, Aim for the Moon, is easily one of the top album to drop this year. However, the late Brooklyn rapper’s record label is now facing a lawsuit over a song on the effort.
According to legal documents obtained by XXL on Tuesday (Nov. 24), a journalist named Victoria Inoyo has filed a lawsuit against Victor Victor Worldwide, the label Pop was signed to prior to his passing, as well as Universal Music Group, Republic Records and Warner Chappell Music, Inc. Inoyo says in the lawsuit that an interview she conducted with the drill rapper at Rolling Loud music festival in Los Angeles last year was used on his album without her permission. As a result, she is seeking an excess of $1.5 million for copyright infringement, right of publicity and unjust enrichment.
The filing says that Inoyo used her own questions, which Pop Smoke answered, during the Dec. 14, 2019 interview that was recorded by her team. Less than a month later, on Jan. 6, 2020, she “fixed” and “published” the interview on her YouTube channel: Vicky’s View. The lawsuit notes that she owns copyright for the interview, which consists of her own vocals and Pop Smoke’s.
On June 16, a rep from Republic Records reached out to Inoyo seeking “her permission to include the Interview, her vocals and/or her appearance on Jackson’s then soon-to-be released recording album, Shoot for the Stars, Aim for the Moon (the “Album”).”
The court documents say that Inoyo was offered $1 to use her interview on Pop’s album. Inoyo was interested in having her conversation with the rapper appear on his project, but she wanted to negotiate the terms and compensation. She spoke with a rep for the label on June 22 to discuss a counteroffer, but apparently the deadline for the album was two days later. Inoyo was informed on June 23 that the label would “no longer be using [Ms. Inoyo’s] vocals.” It was presumed that the interview wouldn’t be used either.
The album was initially announced to be released on June 12, but was pushed back.
When Shoot for the Stars, Aim for the Moon dropped on July 3, Inoyo discovered that her interview was used on the album’s outro track “Tunnel Vision (Outro).” Upon listening, it sounds like another woman’s voice was used instead of Inoyo’s, but Pop Smoke’s response to the journalist’s question was used on the song.
The lawsuit adds: “Ms. Inoyo’s vocals and the Interview are featured in approximately 16 seconds of the Song, which is approximately 2 minutes and 12 seconds long, or roughly 12.12% of the Song. The LABEL’s use of Ms. Inoyo’s vocals and the Interview in the Song is, and was, unauthorized and in bad-faith.” The label refers to Republic Records.
Inoyo, who claims the label “knowingly and intentionally” used her interview on “Tunnel Vision (Outro),” Shoot for the Stars, Aim for the Moon and in the song’s video, is looking to take the case to trial. She is suing for damages, gains, profits and advantages obtained by the label due to copyright infringement.
XXL has reached out to Victoria Inoyo’s attorney, a rep for Pop Smoke and a rep for Victor Victor Worldwide for a comment.
Check out Victoria Inoyo’s interview with Pop Smoke and “Tunnel Vision (Outro)” below.
See 11 of the Best Posthumous Hip-Hop Albums,