Beyoncé sued for alleged copyright infringement with Break My Soul

<span>The cover of Renaissance, the Beyoncé album featuring Break My Soul.</span><span>Photograph: pr handout</span>
The cover of Renaissance, the Beyoncé album featuring Break My Soul.Photograph: pr handout

Beyoncé has been accused of copyright infringement in a new lawsuit targeting her US No 1 hit song Break My Soul.

The song samples Explode by Big Freedia, a New Orleans vocalist who performs bounce, a subgenre of insistent high-tempo dance music. Another bounce group, Da Showstoppaz, are alleging that Big Freedia’s Explode infringed the copyright of their 2002 track Release a Wiggle. Explode slightly alters the title phrase to “release your wiggle” in its repeated chorus, and that phrase was part of the track sampled by Beyoncé.

The lawsuit names Beyoncé, Big Freedia, Jay-Z and Sony Music as defendants. It is argued that Explode used “unique and distinctive lyrics and musical composition” originally created by Da Showstoppaz, adding: “Defendants used plaintiffs’ words, melody, and musical arrangement from their copyrighted works … Any reasonable person listening to Release a Wiggle and Explode would conclude that the songs are substantially similar”.

Da Showstoppaz members Tessa Avie, Keva Bourgeois, Henri Braggs and Brian Clark are calling for the group to be added to the credits of both Explode and Break My Soul, and to receive royalties from the songs’ future earnings, plus damages.

Beyoncé and Big Freedia have not commented on the lawsuit, filed on Wednesday. The Guardian has contacted representatives for both artists.

Explode was relatively little-known beyond the bounce faithful after its release in 2014, but its inclusion in Break My Soul brought it to greater attention. Beyoncé’s track topped the US chart, became her first Top 3 hit in the UK since 2011, and an extended version was a cornerstone of her hugely acclaimed Renaissance world tour.

Big Freedia, an icon in the LGBTQ community, has helped raise the profile of bounce music further in recent years: she was also sampled by Drake for his US and UK No 1 Nice for What, and appeared in the video to his bounce-influenced track In My Feelings.