Stolen or borrowed?

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Back to Article

Stolen or borrowed?

PHOTO BY ELIJAH DE CASTRO/THE PIONEER

PHOTO BY ELIJAH DE CASTRO/THE PIONEER

PHOTO BY ELIJAH DE CASTRO/THE PIONEER

By Elijah De Castro, CONTRIBUTOR

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In an age where instant beats and music rights have become easily accessible on the internet, an East Bay rapper claims that YBN Cordae, who recently released his solo debut album “The Lost Boy,” stole a song from him.
Concord artist Klebber Machado, known as Klebb, took to Instagram with allegations that YBN Cordae copied from his single “Dennise,” which was released in Oct. 2018 on most major platforms: iTunes, Soundcloud, Spotify, and other platforms. Klebb received several messages from friends and supporters notifying him that YBN Cordae copied his song before deciding to speak up about the issue on August 16.
YBN Cordae’s “The Lost Boy” contains 15 songs in total and features a song “Been Around,” using what seems to be the same beat used in Klebb’s “Dennise.”
“I know he heard my song and I know he’s not going to admit it,” said Klebb, “I’m not even mad he took the beat. But the way he went about it is pretty much the same. All I’m asking for is props. As an artist, I love giving credit.”
Upon first listen, it is obvious that the beats are the same, but what Klebb is also arguing is that YBN Cordae copied the vibe and approach to the song.
While Klebb’s song features a trademark from the producer in the beginning of his song, YBN Cordae’s version does not and replaces it with birds chirping in the background and a snippet of an interview asking if he found himself as a lost boy.
Both songs feature similar subject material and style. On “Dennise” the subject material is clearly focused on reminiscing about a past relationship. YBN Cordae follows a similar concept of reminiscing in “Been Around” but focuses more on the relationships he experienced on his rise to stardom. Klebb claims that his work and concepts were used to create “Been Around.”
Klebb originally bought the rights to use the beat through music producer, Yondo, on Youtube and suspects YBN Cordae possibly got it from the same person.
According to the credits for “The Lost Boy” the producers for “Been Around” are listed as Kid Culture and Illuid.Haller. There is no mention of Yondo or Beatstar, a digital production marketplace that allows music producers to license and sell beats and give away free beats, which Yondo operates through.
Although the producer owns the rights to the beat and can distribute it to whoever he pleases, Klebb feels that YBN Cordae copied his style and approach to the song, thus stealing his intellectual property.
“What I’ve seen in this game is that people will remove tags and use the music as their own,” said Klebb. “He heard my song and because he has a name he got on it and approached it the same way. He used the same vibe. His fanbase is way bigger than mine and no one’s going to believe he took an idea from me.”
Recently, Canadian hip hop artist, Drake has been sued for using samples without permission on ‘In My Feelings’ and ‘Nice For What’, two of the biggest hits from his 2018 album ‘Scorpion’ according to TMZ. Sam Skully, a musician, filed a lawsuit against Drake alleging that the rapper stole a beat from his 2000 song, ‘Roll Call,’ which was used on ‘In My Feelings.’ He also claims that ‘Nice for What’ samples another of his beats.
Although the beat for the song “Dennise” was sold non-exclusively, Klebb’s approach to his music is his intellectual property and is copyrighted, according to a Performing Arts Copyright.
While the producer will always own the copyright to the music, the artist will always own the copyright to the lyrics unless it is written by someone else.
A common misconception that many believe is that you have to register the music or the lyrics with the U.S. Copyright Office, but the instant something unique to an artist is recorded, it is copyrighted. This means as soon as something is written on paper, a beat is made, a video recorded, or demo song is saved to a hard drive, it is copyrighted.
YBN Cordae or his producers did not respond to requests for comment.
Whether or not the subject matter of the two songs are similar is up to the listeners, but the beat is undeniably identical. Klebb’s music having been released on most major music platforms a year before YBN Cordae released his album leaves the possibility that YBN Cordae could have heard the song and taken the beat and used Klebb’s subject matter as inspiration for his own.