Yellowcard has filed a lawsuit against emo rapper Juice WRLD for alleged similarities between their respective tracks. The disbanded scene favorite claim the rapper’s 2018 mega-hit “Lucid Dreams” infringes on their “Holly Wood Died” released in 2006. They’re seeking $15 million in damages over copyright infringement, according to Billboard.
Former Yellowcard members William Ryan Key, Sean Michael Wellman-Mackin, Peter Michael Mosely and Longineu Warren Parsons filed the complaint Monday in the U.S. District Court in California. While Key and Mackin were with the band until their final show in 2017, Mosely and Parsons departed previously. However, they were all with the band upon Lights And Sounds 2006 release, the album that houses “Holly Wood Died.”
This isn’t the first time Juice has been accused of ripping off another track. A 16-year-old producer claimed the same against “Lean Wit Me” in January. The rapper has also been entrenched in a legal battle over “Lucid Dreams” in the past. Previously, Sting—whose “Shape Of My Heart” appears as a sample in the track—took Juice to court over royalties.
In the new complaint, Yellowcard alleges Juice WRLD (aka Jarad A. Higgins) and his collaborators ripped “melodic elements” from their track without permission.
“Defendants copied the Original Work without license or consent, and have exploited the subsequent Infringing Work and Infringing Sound Recording to their collective benefit without regard to Plaintiffs’ rights and to Plaintiffs’ detriment,” the filed complaint reads. “The Infringing Work and Infringing Sound Recording directly misappropriates quantitatively and qualitatively important portions of Plaintiffs’ Original Work in a manner that is easily recognizable to the ordinary observer. The Infringing Work and Infringing Sound Recording are not only substantially similar to the Original Work, but in some places virtually identical.”
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In addition to Higgins, the complaint names several other co-defendants. Taz Taylor (aka Danny Lee Snodgress Jr.)—as well as his publishers Taz Taylor Beats, Artist 101 Publishing Group and publishing administrator Kobalt Music Services—are listed. Producer Nicholas Mira and his publishers Nick Mira Publishing, Electric Feel Music and publishing administrator Songs of Universal are also named. BMG Right Management, label Grade A Productions and its parent company Interscope Records round out the filing.
As stated, the band are seeking damages in excess of $15 million and “running royalty and/or ownership share” moving forward. Alternatively, they’re seeking statutory damages “for each act of copyright infringement.” They’re also requesting that each of the defendants named be “permanently enjoined” from exploiting “Lucid Dreams” from here on out.
“Lucid Dreams” catapulted Juice WRLD to success in mid-2018. It reached No. 2. on the Billboard Hot 100 and eventually a 5x time platinum certification. As a result, Yellowcard are also alternatively seeking more than the recording revenue. The band’s filing states the song allowed him “substantial opportunities to tour and perform around the world,” launching his career. They’re alleging they’re owed damages from the rapper’s concerts and public appearances due to his “overwhelming success.”
More on the Yellowcard v. Juice WRLD filing
In the filing, the band provides a chart analyzing the two tracks to show the similarities. Among the alleged similarities are vocal melodies, hooks and “melodic idiosyncrasy,” the latter of which is also known as melisma. Yellowcard states that the melisma appears in a “parallel position” in both tracks.
“The high degree of objective similarity between the Original Work and the Infringing Work extends well beyond the possibility of coincidence and could only reasonably be the result of an act of copying,” the filing states in regards to the chart.
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The complaint points to his title as an “emo rap ambassador” as proof of the connectivity. As an established emo rapper (who even collaborated with Brendon Urie), Juice WRLD has often discussed his love of alternative. The rapper has given shoutouts to Billy Idol, Escape The Fate and Fall Out Boy—just to name a few. However, his love of Fall Out Boy specifically is now being used in the filing.
Juice WRLD often mentions FOB, but Yellowcard are particularly pointing to his adoration of 2005’s From Under The Cork Tree. The Chicago act’s album was released less than a year before Yellowcard’s Lights And Sounds and shares a producer, Neil Avron.
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“Since it is very common for a fan of works produced for an artist by a specific producer to listen to other works by that same producer, it is likely that Defendant Juice WRLD’s appreciation for the album From Under the Cork Tree led to exposure to Yellowcard’s album Lights and Sounds and the Original Work ‘Holly Wood Died,’” the complaint alleges.
While a particular instance of Juice WRLD shouting out Yellowcard isn’t mentioned, the suit goes on to state he often references “emo pop rock,” which it alleges is “the precise genre of Yellowcard’s music.” One unnamed media interview is used as support in which Higgins reveals he “listened to and educated himself in Emo pop rock music” (including Black Veil Brides) to get a fifth grade crush’s attention. Deducing that the 20-year-old would’ve been in fifth grade in 2006, the complaint alleges it’s likely he would’ve heard the band’s album released the same year.
Juice WRLD has not commented on the filing at of the time of publication. Check out the two tracks below to compare them for yourself.
Do you think the tracks sound similar? Sound off in the comments below.