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Lil Nas X Dazed
Photography Charlotte Wales, Styling Tom Guinness

Lil Nas X and Cardi B are being accused of copyright infringement

It’s a familiar formula: two smaller producers are suing the larger artists over alleged similarities in their song ‘Rodeo’

The video for Lil Nas X’s “Rodeo” is consistent with the rest of his debut EP, 7. It has lasers, cowboy hats, and the rapper himself on a bull, all rendered in futuristic, videogamelike CGI. The actual song also fits Lil Nas X’s aesthetic; with a feature from Cardi B, it has twangy guitars lifted straight from a Western and a heavy trap beat.

Some people have taken issue with the song’s roots, however, specifically the producers Don Lee and Glen Keith DeMeritt III, who claim that it borrows heavily from their recording, “gwenXdonlee4-142”.

The recording, which was incorporated into a song called “Broad Day” by PuertoReefa and Sakrite Duexe, was produced in 2017. According to the lawsuit by the two producers, it is “substantially similar” to “Rodeo”, using the same chord progression – E, F, G, F, E – and similar instruments.

Whether there is any significant similarity worth investigating will presumably be decided as the case goes on, but it’s worth pointing out that this is a very familiar occurrence by now. In August, for example, a small singer-songwriter on Soundcloud accused Lady Gaga of stealing his chord progression for her Oscar-winning song, “Shallow”.

This was a month after Katy Perry was ordered to pay $2.78 million to the Christian rapper Flame for using a 6-note sequence apparently taken from one of his songs. At the time, lawyers suggested that this would have a knock-on effect, prompting more similar cases.