Legendary drag queen RuPaul’s 2017 track “Call Me Mother” from her 11th studio album American is a bangin’ track that has been used in the trailer for RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 3, Drag Race Thailand and even a stunning performance in the reality TV competition So You Think You Can Dance. But the song’s days may be numbered as rapper Azealia Banks has called it a blatant ripoff of her 2016 track “The Big Big Beat.” We’re not so sure, but Banks has called out RuPaul on Twitter and the Azealia Banks RuPaul dispute has since convinced the music streaming service Spotify to drop RuPaul’s album America. Banks has promised to get Apple Music to remove the track next.
In a series of tweets published yesterday, Banks wrote:
Lol I got rupauls ripoff of the big big beat .. “call me mother” removed. You will not step on my little black girl toes bitch. You will take your razor bumps and pumps to the nearest laser hair removal clinic and seethe. @RuPaul BYE UGLY! ??
Lol now that I’m filing claims RuPaul wants to reach out. But where was that energy when you were stealing my work and using me as inspiration for your campy ass television show? I’m disappointed in him first and foremost as a black person. He was supposed to have my back
Banks later wrote, “[RuPaul] went with popular white gay sentiment and felt like I was disposable enough to steal from and discard. Fuck him. It’s coming down VERY soon. Spotify agreed it is a rip off and Apple is still litigating. Bye ugly!”
But is the Azealia Banks RuPaul rip-off claim legit? Let’s do a side-by-side comparison.
Here’s Azealia Banks’ “The Big Big Beat”:
Here’s RuPaul’s “Call Me Mother”:
Banks is correct that her song’s opening beats match RuPaul’s pretty dead-on: You can actually sing the entire opening section of RuPaul’s song to Banks’ and they both end at the same time. However, beyond that, RuPaul’s “Call Me Mother” sounds markedly different, with slower sections and a recurring chorus that don’t appear in Banks’ song at all.
Naturally, this isn’t the first song ever to be accused of ripping another off. In March 2018, the estate of deceased musician Marvin Gaye won a lawsuit against Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke, claiming that Williams and Thicke’s misogynist 2013 tune “Blurred Lines” borrowed a backing beat from Marvin Gaye’s 1977 hit “Got To Give It Up.”
You can compare the two in the video below:
And in Rolling Stone‘s list of 12 other landmark song copyright lawsuits, they point out how Vanilla Ice’s 1989 track “Ice Ice Baby” blatantly ripped off Queen and David Bowie’s collaborative 1981 track “Under Pressure.”
More recently, Lana Del Rey’s 2017 song “Get Free” was accused of ripping off the lyrical structure of Radiohead’s 1993 breakthrough hit “Creep.” She claims that the matter has been resolved, but you can compare them below as well.
Sometimes these “rip offs” happen inadvertently as music borrows from previous inspirations. But if other music platforms believe that RuPaul ripped off Banks, RuPaul will have to (ahem) face the music.
What do you think of the Azealia Banks RuPaul dispute? Sound off in the comments.
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