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Nicki Minaj Does Not Want to Pay Tracy Chapman for Sampling “Baby Can I Hold You”

Nicki Minaj has responded to Tracy Chapman’s lawsuit accusing the rapper of infringing on the copyright of Chapman’s 1998 single “Baby, Can I Hold You.” Minaj, whose unreleased Nas-featuring song “Sorry” interpolates Chapman’s chorus, stands accused of leaking the track to Hot 97 radio host Funkmaster Flex, who played it during his show on August 11, one day after the release of Nicki’s latest album Queen, which did not feature “Sorry” because Chapman declined to clear the sample. Ripped versions of the song subsequently leaked online and remain available on YouTube. In Minaj’s response to the lawsuit, filed last Friday in California’s Central District, she denies leaking “Sorry” and claims recording the track constitutes fair use.

Minaj does not deny that she recorded “Sorry” before attempting to obtain rights to Chapman’s lyrics and melody, and she admits that multiple requests to Chapman’s camp after the fact were rebuffed. Nicki said as much on Twitter in the weeks surrounding Queen’s release, during which she discussed attempting to clear the interpolation, asked fans whether to delay the album’s release in order to do so, and ultimately announced in a since-deleted post, “Sis said no.” What may be harder to deny is that she had no knowledge of her own camp leaking “Sorry” to Flex, who tweeted in the hours leading up to the broadcast in question, ““Shhhhhhh!!!! TONIGHT 7PM!!! NICKY GAVE ME SOMETHING!!! @nickiminaj ft @nas !!! (NOT ON HER ALBUM!) GONNA STOP THE CITY TONIGHT!!!!!!!!!!!!!””

While “Sorry” was never officially released, Pitchfork has reported that Chapman could still be entitled to as much as $150,000 in damages. You can listen to both tracks (play “Sorry” at .75 speed for the proper experience) below.