When Beyoncé's Lemonade dropped last spring, New Orleans heard a familiar, distinctive voice opening the album's lead single "Formation": Messy Mya, the New Orleans bounce rapper and comedian who can be heard proclaiming, "What happened at the New Wildins … Bitch I'm back. On popular demand.”
Mya, born Anthony M. Barre, was shot and killed in 2010 and his murder is still unsolved. For some fans, hearing him open "Formation" was a tribute to his legacy and to New Orleans bounce culture.
Now Messy Mya's sister, Angel Barre, is suing Beyoncé for royalties, according to the New Orleans Advocate, alleging that the singer did not ask permission to use the sampling of his voice and that her representatives have been unresponsive to his estate's requests. The video that "Formation" appears to directly sample from is on YouTube:
The lawsuit, filed Monday, names Beyoncé and music label Sony Universal as defendants.
Barre claims that "Formation" samples recognizable portions of two Messy Mya songs, "Booking the Hoes of New Wildings" and "A 27 Piece Huh," and that Beyoncé did not ask for permission or give Messy due credit on the album or her Formation tour.
She is asking for over $20 million in damages and royalties, the paper writes, in addition to credit for her brother on the record and future lives performances.
Sony Universal and representatives for Beyoncé did not immediately respond to a request for comment.