Beyoncé sued for alleged copyright infringement over Break My Soul song

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A group of Louisiana-based musicians have filed a lawsuit against Beyoncé over her 2022 hit “Break My Soul”.

The lead single from the star’s 2022 album Renaissance samples the 2014 song “Explode” by New Orleans artist Big Freedia, a champion of bounce music, a subgenre of the city’s dance and hip-hop scene.

According to a document filed in Louisiana federal court on Wednesday (22 May), Da Showstoppaz – comprised of Tessa Avie, Keva Bourgeois, Henri Braggs and Brian Clark – claim that “Explode” copies the lyrics and composition of their 2002 song “Release a Wiggle” without authorisation.

The lawsuit notes: “Defendants used Plaintiffs’ words, melody, and musical arrangement from their copyrighted works to create an album as homage to ‘Uncle Johnny’ who exposed the music and culture of the LGBTQ community of greater New Orleans, of which three members are strongly affiliated with themselves, all displayed in its full force – the tone, actual words, melody, musical arrangement of bounce music.”

The group also claims: “Any reasonable person listening to ‘Release a Wiggle’ and ‘Explode’ would conclude that the songs are substantially similar”.

Along with Beyoncé and Big Freedia (also known as Freddie Ross Jr), Jay-Z, Sony Music and other agencies have been named as defendants in the suit.

The filing further alleges that while Beyoncé, Big Freedia and others have financially benefitted from the song, Da Showstoppaz have not received the same rewards.

Beyoncé at the iHeartRadio Music Awards in April 2024 (Getty Images for iHeartRadio)
Beyoncé at the iHeartRadio Music Awards in April 2024 (Getty Images for iHeartRadio)

“Mrs Carter, Big Freedia, Parkwood, Sony, and others have received many accolades and substantial profits from ‘Explode’ and ‘Break My Soul’ and the Renaissance album, the ‘Renaissance World Tour,’ and the Renaissance: A Film by Beyoncé, Da Showstoppaz’s have received nothing — no acknowledgement, no credit, no remuneration of any kind,” the suit reads.

According to Rolling Stone, Da Showstoppaz are asking to be credited on “Break My Soul” and “Explode”, and for compensation rights as well as royalties for future licenses on the tracks.

The Independent has reached out to representatives of Beyoncé and Big Freedia for comment.

“Break My Soul” was the first track released by the Cowboy Carter artist for Renaissance and was her first solo single since 2016.

After the album’s release, Beyoncé embarked on a world tour from May to October 2023, which reportedly made $579m (£454m) worldwide.