The sister of Messy Mya — a well-known New Orleans bounce rapper who was fatally shot in 2010 — is suing superstar Beyoncé, who included a Messy Mya cameo on her Grammy-nominated single "Formation" last year.
In a federal lawsuit filed Monday, Angel Barre alleges that Beyoncé used her brother's distinctive "voice, performance and words from his copyrighted works to create the tone, mood, setting and location of the New Orleans-themed 'Formation' video and audio recordings" without obtaining permission or acknowledging Messy Mya's contribution.
Barre asserts, among other things, that Beyoncé's "Lemonade" video album as well as "Formation" committed copyright infringement on "important and recognizable" portions of the Messy Mya songs "Booking the Hoes of New Wildings" and "A 27 Piece Huh."
Live performances related to Beyoncé's "Formation" tour also committed copyright infringement, the lawsuit alleges.
Barre wants more than $20 million in damages as well as royalties, and she also seeks credit to her brother "as a writer, composer, producer and performer," among other things.
Other listed defendants include Sony Music and a company through which Beyoncé and Jay-Z, her rapper husband, own a home in New Orleans. The defendants could not immediately be reached for comment.
Born Anthony Barre, Messy Mya was shot dead on Nov. 14, 2010, in the 7th Ward as he left a baby shower with his pregnant girlfriend. He was 22.
News of the killing went viral on Twitter and YouTube after a photo of Barre's corpse lying face-down in a pool of blood appeared.
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A man named Jason Hamilton spent nearly three years in jail on accusations that he gunned Barre down. But a second-degree murder case against Hamilton, who at the time of his arrest was being treated for bipolar disorder, was dismissed in 2013 after exculpatory evidence surfaced.
So far, no one aside from Hamilton has been charged with killing Messy Mya, who was the grandson of once-imprisoned businessman and New Orleans political power broker Stan "Pampy" Barre.
A quick-witted street comic and "dis" artist, Messy Mya used social media to promote himself, posting popular videos on YouTube that showed him rapping, roasting friends and making fun of strangers at the mall.
Many viewed Beyoncé's mention of Messy Mya in "Formation" as an homage.
The video for "Formation" shows a New Orleans police car sunk in flood waters. It also features a cameo by the local bounce rap star Big Freedia.
Angel Barre is the sole heir of Messy Mya's estate, the lawsuit says.
Her lawsuit alleges that leaving Beyoncé's use of her brother's work unchallenged would create the impression that Messy Mya's estate consented to "defendants' use of his voice, which has impaired Mr. Barre's reputation and credibility as an independent artist who worked alone and did not endorse popular singers."
Court records say Angel Barre is being represented by attorney Roy Rodney Jr., who was Stan Barre's former business partner.
Angel Barre filed her lawsuit exactly one year after the release of "Formation." The statute of limitations for most civil claims in the federal court system is one year.
Lawsuits over work that was allegedly borrowed without giving proper compensation or credit aren't uncommon in the music industry.
Such cases have received much public attention, especially following a successful lawsuit against artists Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams, who were accused of ripping off the Marvin Gaye hit "Got to Give It Up" when they co-wrote their 2013 chart topper "Blurred Lines."