When Ye and Ty Dolla Sign asked last month for permission to sample Donna Summer’s 1977 song “I Feel Love,” the disco singer’s estate firmly told them no. Yet when their joint LP, “Vultures 1,” was released weeks ago, a song with strong similarities to Summer’s famous tune was there on the track list.
A copyright infringement lawsuit detailing that timeline was filed against Ye, the rapper once known as Kanye West, and Ty Dolla Sign on Tuesday by Summer’s husband and executor, Bruce Sudano. Summer, known as the “Queen of Disco,” had three consecutive double albums reach No. 1 in the late 1970s and died of cancer in 2012.
The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Los Angeles, said that Summer’s estate “wanted no association with West’s controversial history.”
Ye, once one of the biggest music stars on the planet, lost professional associations with the Creative Artists Agency and Adidas in 2022 after he threatened in an online post to go “death con 3 On JEWISH PEOPLE,” among other antisemitic statements. He has apologized in a Hebrew-language social media post.
The “Vultures 1” song in question, “Good (Don’t Die),” was played at a listening party at an arena on Long Island on Feb. 9 and was initially released on the album the next day, but has since been removed from it by most online music services.
The lawsuit by Summer’s estate said Ye and Ty Dolla Sign had “recorded almost verbatim the key, memorable portions of Summer’s iconic song, used it as the hook for their own song, and released it to the public knowing they had tried and failed to secure legal permission from its rightful owners.”
A representative for Ye and Ty Dolla Sign did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
The Summer song was not the only contested sample on Ye’s latest album. In a social media post this month, Ozzy Osbourne said Ye had wrongfully used a sample from a 1983 live performance of the Black Sabbath hit “Iron Man” on a song heard at a listening party.
Osbourne said he had denied a sample request from the rapper “because he is an antisemite and has caused untold heartache.”
On “Vultures 1,” that sample was replaced with one from Ye’s 2010 track “Hell of a Life,” which samples “Iron Man” and on which Osbourne is a credited writer.
“Vultures 1” has been the top album on the Billboard 200 chart for two consecutive weeks, Ye’s first album to achieve that distinction since “Watch the Throne,” a collaboration with Jay-Z, in 2011. It was released independently and earned about $1 million in its first week in the United States through sales and streams.