Three songwriters are suing Travis Scott and the other credited authors and producers on his hit song “Highest In the Room,” alleging that the song ripped off their distinctive guitar melody.
The complaint accuses Scott and the other authors and producers of “pretending to be interested in a collaboration,” only to “intentionally [break] the rules by exploiting plaintiffs work without consent or a license, masquerading as if plaintiff’s music is their own.”
“Highest In the Room” debuted at No. 1 on the Hot 100 last October, becoming Scott’s second No. 1 single and first to debut atop the chart, after earning 59 million U.S. streams and 51,000 digital song sales in the week ending Oct. 10. The song ultimately spent 22 weeks on the Hot 100.
Olivier Bassil, Benjamin Lasnier and Lukas Benjamin Leth filed the lawsuit Tuesday (June 9) in federal court in California against Scott, real name Jacques Webster, along with the other credited writers and producers on the song including Oz (Ozan Yildirim), Nik D (Nik Dejan Frascona), Mike Dean, Cash Passion (Jamie Lepr) and Sean Solymar. The suit also names Cactus Jack Records, Grand Hustle LLC, Sony Music Entertainment, Sony/ATV Music Publishing, Papa George Music and These Are Songs of Pulse, a California company.
According to the 37-page complaint, the songwriters alleged that they created a song titled “Cartier” with a distinct guitar melody in 2019. Four days after they created the song, Lasier posted a link to the song containing the original guitar melody in a public online discussion group for music producers. He later sent their original work to hip-hop artist Desiigner and at least 100 producers and artists, including Lepr, hoping they would be interested in licensing the work or in future collaborations.
After also posting the song to Instagram, Lasnier says he began corresponding with Lepr, sending him beats hoping he would license them. Lasnier also sent the work to Yildirim and Frascona. When “Highest in the Room” was released, Bassil, Lasnier and Leth found the guitar melody of the song substantially similar to “Cartier.”
“There is no doubt that Defendants’ ‘Highest in the Room’ was modeled after and copied original, prominent and qualitatively and quantitatively important parts of Plaintiff’s ‘Cartier,” the complaint states.
Richard Busch, the attorney for the three songwriters, tells Billboard, “Everything we basically have to say is set forth in the Complaint. I will just add that our clients are very successful songwriters/producers who, as set forth in the Complaint, and is common practice, corresponded with the defendant writers with an eye toward licensing their work through a collaboration. They never expected that this would end up in a lawsuit but felt they had no choice but to take this action under these circumstances.”
The three songwriters are asking a judge to declare that Scott and the others willfully infringed on their work. In addition, the three are asking for damages and their share of the royalties for “Highest in the Room,” which they predict has already earned upwards of $20 million. A rep for Scott did not return a request for comment.