Rick Astley sues rapper Yung Gravy for ‘vocal imitation’ of hit 'Never Gonna Give You Up'
Rick Astley is suing Yung Gravy, accusing the rapper of impersonating his voice on the song “Betty (Get Money).”
The "Never Gonna Give You Up" singer is seeking relief for the alleged “unauthorized, intentional, theft of his voice for commercial purposes," according to the complaint filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on Jan. 26 and obtained by NBC News.
“Betty (Get Money)” was released by Yung Gravy in June 2022. The song interpolates the musical composition of "Never Gonna Give You Up." But according to Astley's team, "a license to use the original underlying musical composition does not authorize the stealing of the artist’s voice in the original recording."
The complaint alleges that Yung Gravy, whose real name is Matthew Raymond Hauri, and his collaborators “flagrantly impersonated” Astley’s voice and “falsely stated" that Astley endorsed the project.
According to Astley, Yung Gravy and the defendants — which includes Republic Records and music producers Nick Seeley, Dillon Francis and David Wilson — didn't obtain a license to a sample of the song, which is a digital copy of Astley’s voice, and instead "conspired to include a deliberate and nearly indistinguishable imitation" of the singer.
Astley did not grant permission “to copy, imitate or recreate his voice," per the complaint.
Representatives for Yung Gravy have not responded to TODAY.com's request for comment at the time of publication.
Astley is seeking attorneys’ fees and an unspecified amount of damages to include “all the gain, profits, and advantages derived or realized from their violation.” The set amount, according to the lawsuit, is “believed to be in the millions of dollars.”
Yung Gravy spoke to Billboard in August about the success of the song and how he said he was able to clear a sample of “Never Gonna Give You Up.”
“I always thought that sample would be sick to do something with. I just never figured it was clearable,” he said. “Somebody who had part-ownership of the rights to the sample hit me up like, ‘We f–k with you, you should try it out.’"
In the interview, he said that Seeley was able to create a "replay" of "Never Gonna Give You Up."
"My boy Nick, who does a lot of sample replays and recreating original samples, we basically remade the whole song," the rapper said. "Had a different singer and instruments, but it was all really close because it makes it easier legally."
The complaint states that Seeley posted an Instagram video about the song-making process during which said he wanted the song "to sound identical" to the original.
"In the same video Nick switches between the actual recording of 'Never Gonna Give You Up' and his recreation and asks, 'Can you tell the difference?'" the complaint states.
In the August interview, Yung Gravy said that he first heard the song when he was in middle school and that he genuinely enjoys the song.
“I listen to it and I think it bangs," he told the outlet. "I’m sure a lot of people do, even if they don’t admit it. I always thought of it as a good possibility to sample as an option, but I didn’t expect it until that guy hit me up.”
Yung Gravy clarified that it wasn’t Astley himself who reached out, but said it was someone who had helped write the original track.
As for whether he had gotten a chance to talk to the singer himself, Yung Gravy said at the time, “I tried to reach out and all I know is they came back saying he’s on tour right now. They said he digs the song and you’ll hear more later. He approved it and he’s a fan.”
This article was originally published on TODAY.com