December 2, 2023

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Cardi B Wins Jury Trial Over Mixtape Artwork

Cardi B has won a years-long lawsuit regarding the cover art to her 2016 mixtape. Her legal team confirmed that a jury at the Central District of California Court in Santa Ana ruled in the rapper’s favor “on all counts” on Friday (October 21). “I wanna kiss Gods feet right now …..IM BEYOND GRATEFUL!!!!” Cardi tweeted after the verdict. 

Back in 2017, Cardi B was sued by a man named Kevin Michael Brophy, Jr. over the alleged appearance of his back tattoo on the cover of the rapper’s 2016 debut mixtape, Gangsta Bitch Music, Vol. 1. In the original complaint, Brophy alleged that the rapper, without his knowledge or consent, “misappropriated the unique likeness of [his] body art and image[…] in a misleading, offensive, humiliating and provocatively sexual way to launch her career in music and entertainment.” Brophy and his lawyers have been seeking at least $5 million in damages. A representative for Brophy rovided the following statement, which also referred to Cardi B’s former manager, Klenord “Shaft” Raphael:

After the verdict Michael Brophy, , Cardi b and Mr. Rafael [sic] shook hands. They were gracious winners. Mr. Brophy is a stand up human being. If this chapter can close it may be best for the Brophy family’s ability to put this behind them. That’s all that is important.

In 2018, Cardi B and her lawyers responded: “The suggestion that any of Cardi B’s success, or income, in any way arose from or is attributable to the use of the tattoo image in that early photo is simply ludicrous.” In addition, they said the artwork features “another man (not [Kevin Michael Brophy, Jr.]).” They explained:

The photo selected as “album art” for that mixtape[…] and the photo of Plaintiff [Kevin Michael Brophy, Jr.] are entirely different. In the photo of “Plaintiff’s back”[…] he is a Caucasian male, standing vertically, with both his arms hanging straight down by his sides, facing away from the camera, face invisible, displaying his entire back from lower waistline to head, also displaying the backs of the full lengths of both arms, with an elaborate “Born to Lose” tattoo extending up across the rear of his neck, apparently wearing a black knit watchcap. In contrast, the figure in the Cardi B photo[…] is a young dark skinned male, apparently kneeling and bowing before her, bent forward, face also invisible, with his back to the camera but only showing the top portion of his back, with his right arm invisible and his left arm outstretched, not hanging by his side, showing his hairline, and he has no visible tattoo whatsoever on his neck. The tattoo image on the back of the man in the Cardi B photo is less than 20% the size of the tattoo image on Plaintiff’s back in the photo in the Complaint[…] and visibly different, aside from representing only a small portion of the entire Cardi B photo. The man in the photo with Cardi B is not Plaintiff, but a third party male model. The male figure in the Cardi B photo is not visually identifiable (since he is facing away from the camera, bowing before her); and is not even in a posture similar to any known image of Plaintiff.

Cardi B and her attorneys also alleged: “What is [Kevin Michael Brophy, Jr.] really seeking? Simple: Whatever piece of Cardi B’s income he can gouge out, and whatever free ride on her famous coat-tails he can gain, through the extortionate means of this unfounded, preposterous action.”

At a hearing earlier this year, according to Rolling Stone, the presiding federal judge, Cormac J. Carney, remarked “I don’t think this case is a complex case, but I think it’s a very interesting case, and it’s one I think the jurors would enjoy.”

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