Beyoncé sued for alleged copyright infringement over ‘Break My Soul’ sample

The music icon, her record label, Sony Music, Jay-Z, and other parties are being sued by New Orleans-based group Da Showstoppaz.

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Beyoncé accepts the Grammy for best dance/electronic music album for “Renaissance” during the 2023 awards ceremony in Los Angeles. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for The Recording Academy)

Beyoncé is facing a copyright lawsuit over her No. 1 single “Break My Soul.” 

The music icon, her record label, Sony Music, Jay-Z, and other parties are being sued by New Orleans-based group Da Showstoppaz, who alleged that Beyoncé infringed their 2002 song, “Release A Wiggle,” by legally sampling Big Freedia’s 2014 song “Explode” for her single, “Break My Soul,” according to Billboard

Big Freedia, whose legal name is Freddie Ross Jr., is also named in the lawsuit, which accuses Freedia of illegally using lyrics from Da Showstoppaz’ song to create “Explode.” The legal action, which focuses on the specific lyric “release yo wiggle” and its variations, was filed by four members of the group — Tessa Avie, Keva Bourgeois, Henri Braggs and Brian Clark — in federal court in the Eastern District of Louisiana on Wednesday, according to USA Today.

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Beyoncé supports Jay-Z as he accepts the Dr. Dre Global Impact Award during the 66th GRAMMY Awards at Arena on Feb. 4, 2024, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for The Recording Academy)

“While Mrs. Carter…and others have received many accolades and substantial profits…Da Showstoppaz’s have received nothing—no acknowledgment, no credit, no remuneration of any kind,” the group’s attorneys wrote in a statement, per Billboard.

The group’s legal team claimed that Freedia “never credited Da Showstoppaz as the source” of the phrase that was allegedly used in her song “Explode,” Billboard reported. In the lawsuit, the group said that they first learned about “Explode” after “Break My Soul” became an international success, and contacted Beyoncé and others about the alleged copyright with no response back, per Billboard.

“The infringing phrase ‘release yo’ wiggle’ and several other substantially similar phrases are featured prominently in the song and evenly spread out across ‘Explode’s’ two-minute and forty-seven second runtime,” the lawyers said. “Any reasonable person listening to ‘Release A Wiggle’ and ‘Explode’ would conclude that the songs are substantially similar.”

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“The coined term and phrase ‘release a/yo wiggle’ has now become closely synonymous with Big Freedia, thereby contributing to Big Freedia’s fame,” the legal team added. “However, Big Freedia did not compose or write the phrase, and Big Freedia never credited Da Showstoppaz as the source.”

Beyoncé’s song “Break My Soul” is one of the most popular tracks on her 2022 album “Renaissance.” The dance-pop song became the anthem of the summer in 2022, peaking at No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and Hot Dance/Electronic Songs charts, according to Billboard. The single was also nominated for Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Best Dance/Electronic Recording at the 2023 Grammy Awards, winning the latter.