The Black Panther soundtrack could be in some legal trouble. The Weeknd And Kendrick Lamar are being sued by defunct experimental rock band Yeasayer over an alleged uncleared sample used in the hit song "Pray For Me." Director Ryan Coogler brought Lamar on to curate a soundtrack and brought up the idea of the rapper collaborating with a number of people he's never worked with before. The movie hit theaters in February 2018 and quickly became a hit, going on to earn over $1 billion at the box office.
As for the Black Panther soundtrack, that immediately blew up too. Released by Kendrick Lamar's Tod Dawg Entertainment, the album sold over 150,000 copies in its first week and soon went on to go platinum after selling more than 1 million copies. Now, Yeasayer is claiming that one of the album's biggest singles contains an uncleared sample from their 2007 song "Sunrise." It is unclear why the band, who broke up last year, is pursuing legal action over 2 years after the song and soundtrack were released.
"Pray For Me" is credited to Kendrick Lamar, The Weeknd, Adam Feeney, and Martin McKinney on the Black Panther soundtrack. McKinney also serves as a producer on the track, along with Frank Dukes. The producing duo work with The Weeknd frequently and they are responsible for the beat and instrumental track. Yeasayer claims that the high-pitched male singing in "Pray For Me" is lifted straight from their 2007 track "Sunrise." The band says that the producers took their original vocal recordings and modified it with "intent to conceal the infringement." The band says that the sample can be heard up to 8 different times throughout the Kendrick Lamar and Weeknd track.
Yeasayer claim that their vocals can clearly be heard on Pray For Me and that the song features sounds, "comprised of male voices singing in their highest registers, with animated, pulsing vibrato." The "pulsing vibrato," or a possible sample chop, is what gives the voice the fluttery sound in the song. Upon listening to both songs back to back, it is possible that the band may have a chance at winning the lawsuit against Kendrick Lamar and The Weeknd over the Black Panther soundtrack.
Yeasayer is asking for all the "Pray For Me" profits and damages in the lawsuit. The band also wants an injunction blocking further sales and airplay of the hit song. This type of thing has happened a lot over the past few years since it's so easy to sample music. Adam Feeney and Martin McKinney may be able to provide the multitrack sessions for the song to prove that it's their own sample and not from the band, or they may just end up settling out of court and giving Yeasayer a decent chunk of change. TMZ was the first to report on the lawsuit. You can check out both songs below and decide for yourself. The sample appears at the 2:10 mark in "Pray For Me" and at the very beginning of "Sunrise."