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Ex-girlfriend suing Drake over song royalties

Rapper Drake waves after performing during the NHL All-Star hockey game in Ottawa January 29, 2012.


The song is about the messy aftermath of a relationship. And that's what the Toronto-raised rapper Drake appears to be facing in a lawsuit filed against him in Los Angeles.

Ericka Lee alleges she was in a romantic and business relationship with the artist between early 2010 and mid-2011, when they collaborated on the hit song Marvin's Room, according to Lee.

Over two days in February, 2011, Lee recorded the telephone monologue and the "Are you drunk right now?" question that repeats throughout the song.

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In the song, Drake (whose real name is Aubrey Graham) plays an over-indulged, partied-out rapper drunkenly telephoning an ex-lover, cajoling her to see him again.

Snippets of telephone conversations, real or staged, are regularly used in hip hop music. The question is the degree to which Lee was a creator of the song.

In the suit filed in Los Angeles Thursday, Lee alleges that the song was a collaboration from the start and that Drake sent text messages to her, saying "U basically made that song," acknowledging her contribution. The song was released last summer, around the time Lee says her relationship with Drake ended.

Drake was not immediately available for comment late Friday. None of the allegations have been proven in court.

Lee believed that Drake "was looking out for her interests," the lawsuit says. But it contests that she was offered only two per cent of writing royalties after the song was released in the summer.

When Drake's album Take Care came out in November with the song, Lee wasn't listed among the song's writers, but as a vocalist under the alias Syren Lyric Muse, the lawsuit says.

When Lee went to lawyers in November, the suit alleges that the rapper made "several threatening and menacing phone calls" to her, saying that he had "'teams of people to take care of issues like her." He is said to have made a new offer of four to five per cent of writing royalties plus $50,000 if she didn't file a suit.

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This is the second time the rapper is being pursued by the lawyer Neville Johnson, who also filed a suit in 2010 against Drake on behalf of Playboy Enterprises for the use of a sample in the song Best I Ever Had (that suit was settled for an undisclosed amount).

In the new suit, Lee is seeking co-writing credit and undisclosed royalties for Marvin's Room.

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