But the song sounded a little too familiar to Paterson rapper Rackboy Cam.
In 2018, Rackboy Cam, born Anthony Campbell, sued YFN Lucci, aka Rayshawn Bennett, for copyright infringement in U.S. District Court in Georgia. He also sued PnB Rock, aka Rakim Allen, producer June “The Jenius” James and Think It’s a Game Records, YFN Lucci’s Atlanta-based label.
On March 2, Judge Charles A. Pannell Jr. issued a default judgment in Cam’s favor, awarding him $1,447,720 after PnB Rock and James, the producer, did not respond to the lawsuit, according to a court document reviewed by NJ Advance Media.
As part of this month’s judgment, Cam was awarded 50% of PnB Rock and 50% of James’ writer’s royalties in perpetuity from the original song as well as a remix featuring Lil Yachty and Wiz Khalifa. The rapper also receives prejudgment interest at 6.25% per year for the nearly three-year period since the lawsuit was filed on March 13, 2018, and $4,576.82 in out-of-pocket legal costs, bringing the total to more than $1.7 million.
The judgment follows a 2019 settlement between Cam, Think It’s a Game Records and YFN Lucci for an undisclosed amount of money.
“I feel like it was pretty fair,” Cam, 27, tells NJ Advance Media. “I’m blessed, I’m satisfied. I feel like this is a big statement for Jersey because I feel like we don’t get the credit.”
Cam’s “Everything Be Lit” features Brooklyn rapper Maino, who delivers the “everything be lit” chorus, and Harlem rapper Vado. In YFN Lucci’s “Everyday We Lit,” both Lucci and PnB Rock are on the chorus. A video for that song, released in 2017, has more than 168 million views on YouTube.
Lucci’s 2016 single “Everyday We Lit” was the first from his debut EP “Long Live Nut,” released in 2017.
The judge ruled that PnB Rock and James can’t promote, distribute or publicly perform the song without Rackboy Cam’s permission.
Cam says that Think It’s a Game Records previously expressed interest in signing him.
“I had a relationship with PnB,” Cam says of the singer and rapper from Philadelphia. “I was around him for a period of time.”
When “Everyday We Lit” came out, people began asking Cam about the links to his song. From there, he started to look into copyright infringement and retained an attorney.
The Paterson rapper says PnB Rock had come to his show where he performed “Everything Be Lit.” Before suing, he says he attempted to contact the artist to reach a resolution about the two songs.
‘People will take your music’
Niro says that considering he had to show that the songs were substantially similar and that the alleged infringers had access to the other song before writing their own, the timeline in the case was “astounding.”
“Not only did Cam go down to Atlanta and meet with TIG (Think it’s a Game Records) about this song, he also met with PnB Rock and YFN Lucci and then six months later, YFN Lucci and PnB Rock come out with a song that is pretty darn similar to it,” Niro tells NJ Advance Media. “I mean, it really reeks of some foul play.”
While the songs are in different keys and different tempos, lining up the lyrics side by side produces a similar layout, he says. “We’re happy with how the judge handled this case.
If he had to do it over again, Cam would have registered the copyright on the song in 2016 instead of waiting until 2017, when “Everyday We Lit” started to take off.
“For all the independent artists out there, music is one thing, but make sure you handle your business — you’re copyrighting your music and things of that nature — because, man, the game is dangerous out here,” Cam says. “People will take your music and being that they’ve got the engine and the label to push it, they take it and won’t really give a f—. If you don’t have your business handled, you won’t be able to protect yourself, fight for what’s yours.”
NJ Advance Media has reached out to representatives of YFN Lucci, PnB Rock and Think It’s a Game Records.
“I’m just happy that it’s finally over, justice is served,” Cam says.
“I inspired another artist to make a big record,” Cam says. “Now it’s time for me to do the same thing for myself.”