Fame always has a price and for Lil Nas X, it seems like a bunch of bills are coming due just at the apex of his rise to superstardom. The “Old Town Road” rapper has long been able to roll with the punches, from the eager criticism of genre purists to the cancel culture aspiration of his formerly fellow stans, but now he has to face the final boss of viral fame — lawsuits. According to TMZ, a music rights management group apparently called The Music Force is taking Nas — and Sony Music — to court for an uncleared sample, even though the song that sampled it predates his “Old Town Road” fame.
Way back in July 2018, Lil Nas made his original overture toward rap stardom with a mixtape called Nasarati. Unlike his recently released EP 7, it was more of a straightforward hip-hop project, complete with sampled beats and heartfelt rhymes. The lead single, which Nas even shot and released a video for, was “Carry On,” a sort-of open letter to his mother, with whom he had a fractured relationship at the time. Lil Nas’ “Carry On” contains a sample of soul singer Bobby Caldwell’s 1982 record of the same name. They’ve since patched things up and begun taking tentative steps toward repairing their relationship, but that likely won’t stop The Music Force for coming for royalties — even though, at best, they would only be entitled to a percentage of Nas’ Youtube views payout if anything at all.
According to TMZ, The Music Force alleges that Nas uploaded the song to YouTube, Spotify, and Soundcloud, but Nasarati has only ever existed on Soundcloud and mixtape services like DatPiff — services which do not monetize plays. The Music Force is apparently asking for $25 million, which means they are probably angling for a settlement in the six figures, since there’s no way Nas even made anywhere near that for “Carry On,” and likely explains Sony’s presence on the documents despite the record coming out before he ever had his Columbia deal. A similar situation involved the late Mac Miller and rap producer Lord Finesse which wound up being resolved through a settlement as well.
As of now, “Carry On” has been removed from the Soundcloud version of Nasarati and the video was disabled on Youtube, but you can still hear the track on DatPiff.