Singer Rick Astley, whose 1987 hit “Never Gonna Give You Up” became a viral meme years later through the “Rickrolling” craze, is suing rapper Yung Gravy, accusing him of using the vocals from his song without licensing them.
Astley, 56, filed the suit against Gravy, his production team, and voice impersonator Nick “Popnick” Seeley on Thursday, according to TMZ, claiming Gravy’s “Betty (Get Money)” used Seeley’s voice to reproduce Astley’s vocals from the 1987 song.
“I always thought that sample would be sick to do something with,” Gravy, now 26, admitted to Billboard in August 2022. “I just never figured it was clearable. Somebody who had part-ownership of the rights to the sample hit me up like, ‘We f*** with you, you should try it out.’ My boy Nick, who does a lot of sample replays and recreating original samples, we basically remade the whole song.”
“Had a different singer and instruments, but it was all really close because it makes it easier legally,” Gravy continued. “We said, ‘Let’s try to clear it and see what happens.’”
The group “conspired to include a deliberate and nearly indistinguishable imitation of Mr. Astley’s voice throughout the song,” Astley’s attorneys claim.
Gravy reportedly did license the instrumental music from Astley’s song.
In his interview with Billboard, Gravy was asked if he was an Astley fan or a fan of the song. “The song became a meme. I’m sure that’s probably how I first heard it in middle school, in meme fashion, but I actually really like the song. I listen to it and I think it bangs. I’m sure a lot of people do even if they don’t admit it,” Gravy replied.
“Rickrolling” refers to trolling someone on the internet by a bait-and-switch that links to the music video for Astley’s song.
“My publishing company was like, ‘Yo, there’s a chance that you could clear it,” Gravy declared. Asked if he had heard from Astley, he replied. “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.”