A Ghanaian hip-hop artist is suing Drake for $10 million in damages for using a sample of his music without permission.
Michael Darko, who goes by the stage name of Obrafour, recently filed a federal lawsuit against Drake, Warner Music Group, Universal Music Publishing and several other defendants associated with the song’s use.
According to court documents, Darko claims that Drake sampled a portion of his track “Oye Oheme” featuring Tinny without permission in Drake’s song, “Calling My Name.” Darko also claims Drake’s album and song were released before his team had an opportunity to respond to an email requesting clearance.
The lawsuit claims “Defendants released the Infringing Work on June 17, 2022, despite the fact that an agent of one or more Defendants had previously contacted Obrafour seeking to obtain Obrafour’s permission for the use of the Copyrighted Work in the Infringing Work. Obrafour never granted Defendants permission to use the Copyrighted Work and the Infringing Work was released mere days later.”
Darko, who is also called the Rap Sofo and Rap Executioner, is known as a hiplife musician. Using Twi, Darko raps and tells stories to listeners, much like American hip-hop artists. His debut album “Pae mu ka” won three awards at the 2000 Ghana Music Awards, and is considered one of the greatest-selling albums in Ghana.
Canadian-born Drake is a musician, actor and producer. He got his start as an actor on the Canadian television show “Degrassi: The Next Generation,” and would launch his music career in 2006. Since then, he has achieved international success as a hip-hop artist. In addition, his business ventures include endorsement deals with Nike, Apple and Sprite. Drake also is the global ambassador for the Toronto Raptors. In 2012, he launched OVO Sound, a label that represents his music and that of several popular artists.
Permission Never Granted
The lawsuit was filed by Aidala, Bertuna & Kamins, a New York-based law firm. The legal team argues that although Drake’s musical team sent an email requesting clearance for the sample, no permission was granted.
‘It’s such a blatant rip and sample from our client’s song. More so, we have as part of the complaint the emails from the woman that clears rights for Drake, reaching out to our client via email and not waiting for him to get the permission,” Darko’s legal representative, Imran H. Ansari told The Daily Mail. “Then Drake dropped the sort of secret album, if you will, without getting the right clearances owned by my client.”
In addition, the request was sent just one week before the album’s release. Darko was surprised to hear his music featured in Drake’s song without his permission.
“Quite frankly, it’s insulting to an artist who is a musician of some popularity, especially in their home country, who takes pride in the creative work that they have put together,” Ansari told The Daily Mail. “Only to find out that it’s just disregarded in the sense that Drake samples from his work without permission. The emails are indicative that he knew he needed to do so. And he didn’t do so.”
Court documents reveal that the song has been streamed more than 4.1 million times on YouTube, more than 47 million times on Spotify, and heavily has been streamed on Apple Music as well.
Darko’s demand for $10 million is to cover ‘all profits and damages in the following categories attributable to the infringement,’ including album sales, downloads, sponsorships, digital revenue, and concerts that Drake performed following the release of the song,’ according to court documents.