Drake: No 'merit' to 'Marvin's Room' lawsuit
When Drake used a midnight-hour drunk-dial from a female friend as the foundation for his single “Marvin’s Room,” the bitter torch song became an instant hit when it trended on Twitter, sparked numerous covers and racked up millions of views on YouTube. But now the song is at the center of a new lawsuit targeting the Canadian rapper-singer.
Ericka Lee -- who claims she had a romantic and business relationship with Drizzy -– filed a lawsuit in California's federal court on Thursday alleging she was the voice on the phone that was used for the track.
Lee is suing Drizzy for excluding her from sharing any co-writer royalties on the single. She claims their partnership (both business and pleasure) lasted from early 2010 to mid-2011, during which they supposedly traded poems, song lyrics and discussed creative projects.
That allegation differs from how Drake recalled the creation of the song when he sat down with The Times late last year for a feature article. He spoke about how an impromptu jam session with Stevie Wonder (that collaboration became album cut “Doing It Wrong”) accidentally inspired the track.
“[Longtime producer Noah '40' Shebib] started making this beat, and I started singing these melodies, and I got a phone call from this girl,” he recalled. “I was in the booth singing [hums opening bars of the chorus]. I remember that was the first part I had.”
“Middle of recording I got a call from this girl, and she had been drinking,” he continued. “Because I was recording, I just put the phone on the speaker and sat it on the music stand. ‘40’ thought so quick to record it. I went back to recording more melodies. As I was recording, he was taking pieces of the conversation out … You know where the story is going. At the end of the night we had a song called ‘Marvin’s Room.’”
In the liner notes for “Take Care,” Lee isn’t credited, however someone named Syren Lyric Muse is given credit as lending additional vocals to “Marvin’s Room.” In July, Lee filed a copyright claim with the U.S. Copyright Office in which she stated her "words and voice" appear on "Marvin's Room." Her email is listed as starting with lyricmuse7.
In August, Drake’s label, Cash Money Records, filed a claim stating the song was authored as an “employer for hire.”
According to the complaint, Drake first offered her 2% of "publishing royalties," which she declined. Things apparently got messy between the two with Lee getting a lawyer and Drake trying to get her to go away with an offer of 4% to 5% of publishing and a $50,000 settlement.
Lee is seeking damages and to be declared a co-writer for the song, while Drake plans on fighting the allegation.
"This claim is entirely without merit and our client has not engaged in any wrongful conduct. Ericka Lee consented to the use of her voice in the song “Marvin’s Room” prior to its release. Lee asked only for the credit she received as “Syren Lyric Muse,” and she did not ask for any compensation," a spokesperson for the rapper told Pop & Hiss on Friday. "It was only after she retained a lawyer that there was a demand for payment. Drake tried for months to resolve the matter amicably, and he now looks forward to being vindicated in court."
A source close to the performer also stressed the two were never engaged in a romantic relationship, despite her claims.
Drake released “Marvin’s Room” as a promo single last summer. The track instantly became a trending topic online when it debuted. The late-night drunk dial that’s interpolated throughout the track and the song's lyrics, which manage to boast superiority over an ex’s new lover and the loneliness of the breakup, spawned a host of remakes including ones from Chris Brown and JoJo.
-- Gerrick D. Kennedy
Photo: Drake inside the Nineteen 12 bar at the Beverly Hills Hotel in Beverly Hills on Nov. 2, 2011. Credit: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times