Kendrick Lamar's 2017 Hit "Loyalty" Is at the Center of a Copyright Infringement Lawsuit

The suit has its roots in a song the plaintiff claims he wrote and recorded in 2011 that has the same title and melody, "with a few minor variations."


Image via Getty/Santiago Bluguermann


Kendrick Lamar's DAMN. single "Loyalty" is at the center of a lawsuit claiming the hit track represents a case of copyright infringement. 

The Grammy-winning song, featuring Rihanna, is named in a suit against Lamar that was filed in California federal court on Aug. 21. As spotted byMusic Business Worldwide, Terrance Hayes alleges that he wrote a track also called "Loyalty" in 2011 and recorded it with Josef Leimberg (who worked with Lamar on To Pimp a Butterfly) that same year.

Hayes' suit claims that sessions related to his song were kept on Leimberg's computer, which he argues Terrace Martin—who is credited as a writer on Lamar's "Loyalty"—had access to by way of Leimberg.

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More specifically, Hayes alleges in the suit that defendants—which include Lamar, Martin, Leimberg, and Top Dawg Entertainment—"copied the entire composition, including title, melody, harmony, and rhythm." Hayes further claims that the defendants slowed down his composition "through a synthesizer" and hid this by pairing it with a sample.

Elsewhere, the suit argues that the melodies of both songs are "identical … with a few minor variations." 

Hayes is now seeking the awarding of all profits from Lamar's "Loyalty," as well as any additional "monetary advantage" brought on by the song's success. The total amount of the latter, as argued in the filing, should be determined at a trial.

Lawsuits of this nature are a frequent occurrence in music. Back in July, for example, (no-longer-active band) Yeasayer's copyright infringement suit centered on the Weeknd's Black Panther: The Album cut "Pray for Me" (featuring Lamar). The suit was eventually dropped.

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