It’s a case of life imitating art: A woman has sued hip-hop smoothie Drake claiming she’s the voice on the other end of the drunk-dial on last year’s eerie Take Care stunner “Marvin’s Room” — and she says she has the text messages to prove it.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, the plaintiff is Ericka Lee, who claims she was professionally and romantically involved with Drake from early 2010 to mid-2011. The lawsuit claims she is entitled to co-writer royalties from “Marvin’s Room,” which peaked at No. 21 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart and has been certified gold. Drake allegedly recognized Lee’s role in text messages, saying, “U basically made that song,” and “It’s shit without you.”
Lee reportedly claims she and Drake decided to collaborate on “Marvin’s Room” and share the earnings. Drake asked her to record the hook and opening monologue, the lawsuit claims. “Plaintiff’s contribution is highly significant to the overall work,” the complaint is quoted as saying.
While Take Care‘s liner notes don’t mention Lee by name in an extensive list of thank-yous, a “Syren Lyric Muse” is credited for “additional vocals” on “Marvin’s Room.” What’s more, as the Hollywood Reporter points out, Lee and Drake filed a joint copyright claim for the song on June 9, when the track debuted on Drake’s blog. Cash Money Records filed a claim of its own on July 22.
Lee presumably wasn’t an ex at the time of the “Marvin’s Room” recording, but according to the complaint, she was on the receiving end of at least one disturbing phone call. After Lee retained an attorney in November, Drake allegedly called her up and said, “What the fuck is your problem?” Lee also claims he offered her 4 to 5 percent of publishing royalties, along with an extra $50,000 in hush money. That’s up from the 2 percent of publishing royalties Drake allegedly offered her not long after their relationship fell apart.
UPDATE: A rep for Drake has responded with a statement reading, “This claim is entirely without merit and our client has not engaged in any wrongful conduct. Ericka Lee consented to the use of her voice in the song ‘Marvin’s Room’ prior to its release. Lee asked only for the credit she received as ‘Syren Lyric Muse,’ and she did not ask for any compensation. It was only after she retained a lawyer that there was a demand for payment. Drake tried for months to resolve the matter amicably, and he now looks forward to being vindicated in court.”
Lee is reportedly asking to be declared the co-author of the song. Claiming a breach of fiduciary duties and unjust enrichment, she’s seeking unspecified damages along with the reimbursement of profits from the song. Her lawyer, Neville Johnson, previously represented Playboy Enterprises in a copyright-infringement suit against Drake for allegedly sampling Hamilton, Joe Frank, and Reynold’s 1975 hit “Fallin’ in Love,” whose copyright Playboy owned. Expect Drake to turn all of this into moody, genre-confounding music in time for his third album.