A small online retailer named The Little Homie is being accused of trademark infringement and misleading conduct by Jay-Z, in a copyright lawsuit. The Australian owner of The Little Homie, Jessica Chiha, says she’ll fight the case, which revolves around her using the rapper’s name and lyrics in children’s books.
AB to Jay-Z, the main example, is a picture book that teaches kids the alphabet by referencing famous hip hop artists (cute, even if it is potentially illegal). On the back of the book a quote reads: “If you’re having alphabet problems I feel bad for you son, I got 99 problems but my ABCs ain’t one” – a clear reference to the ninth track off Jay-Z’s The Black Album.
The book raised over $8,000 for The Little Homie on Kickstarter, with voting for what rapper should be referenced by letter.
The reasons AB to Jay-Z came to the eponymous artist’s attention are, however, troubling in themselves. Reportedly, Jay-Z first heard of the book due to controversy about whether the company is black-owned, leading to accusations of cultural appropriation and racism back in 2017.
An online petition has also highlighted the company’s use of the n-word in marketing materials, as well as Chiha’s husband wearing blackface.
According to legal documents, Jay-Z – a literal billionaire – asked Chiha to stop in March 2018, and again in July this year. Obviously, Chiha has refused to stop trading, which is what’s led to the court case.
“To have someone like Jay-Z file legal proceedings is daunting beyond belief and hugely dispiriting,” she says. “We maintain we have done nothing wrong.”