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This Artist Says Her Work Was Stolen For Kendrick Lamar and Sza’s Video ‘All The Stars’

The British-Liberian artist claims her work was used without her permission.

The New York Times reports that British-Liberian artist Lina Iris Viktor claims her work was used without her permission for the music video for "All The Stars." The video is of a song taken from the soundtrack to the upcoming movie Black Panther.


On Saturday, Viktor's lawyer, Christopher Robinson, sent a letter to Anthony Tiffith, CEO of Top Dawg Entertainment, the label Kendrick Lamar and Sza are signed to, and one that is releasing the soundtrack. On the letter, Viktor alleges that the gold patterns on the video were lifted from her artwork titled "Constellations," and used without her permission.

Read: Here Are the 4 South African Features In The 'Black Panther' Soundtrack

The letter also states that Viktor was approached twice by the film's creators to use her work, but she refused both times. The letter further states that Viktor is wiling "to discuss a resolution of all her claims, consisting at a minimum of a public apology for the unauthorized use and a license fee."

Viktor was quoted by the New York Times as saying:

"Why would they do this? It's an ethical issue, because what the whole film purports is that it's about black empowerment, African excellence—that's the whole concept of the story. And at the same time they're stealing from African artists."

According to the New York Times, Kendrick Lamar, Anthony Tiffith, and Disney declined to comment.

Music

6 Samples From 'Éthiopiques' in Hip-Hop

A brief history of Ethio-jazz cultural exchange featuring songs by Nas & Damian Marley, K'naan, Madlib and more.

This article was originally published on OkayAfrica in March, 2017. We're republishing it here for our Crossroads series.

It's 2000 something. I'm holed up in my bedroom searching for samples to chop up on Fruity Loops. While deep into the free-market jungle of Amazon's suggested music section, I stumble across a compilation of Ethiopian music with faded pictures of nine guys jamming in white suit jackets. I press play on the 30 second sample.

My mind races with the opportunities these breakbeats offered a budding beat maker. Catchy organs, swinging horns, funky guitar riffs, soulful melodies and grainy and pained vocalists swoon over love lost and gained. Sung in my mother tongue—Amharic—this was a far cry from the corny synthesizer music of the 1990s that my parents played on Saturday mornings. I could actually sample this shit.

The next day, I burn a CD and pop it into my dad's car. His eyes light up when the first notes ooze out of the speakers. “Where did you get this?" He asks puzzlingly. “The internet," I respond smiling.

In the 1970s my dad was one of thousands of high school students in Addis Ababa protesting the monarchy. The protests eventually created instability which lead to a coup d'état. The monarchy was overthrown and a Marxist styled military junta composed of low ranking officers called the Derg came to power. The new regime subsequently banned music they deemed to be counter revolutionary. When the Derg came into power, Amha Eshete, a pioneering record producer and founder of Ahma Records, fled to the US and the master recordings of his label's tracks somehow ended up in a warehouse in Greece.

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