The Weeknd is facing a copyright-infringement lawsuit over his song “Call Out My Name,” with two producers claiming the song resembles a song of theirs the singer was shown years before. Musicians Suniel Fox and Henry Strange, a.k.a. Epikker, filed the lawsuit in California federal court on September 17, Law360 and Pitchfork reported, also against the Weeknd’s producer Frank Dukes and musician Nicolás Jaar, whose 2016 song “Killing Time” was sampled for the track. The duo allege that the Weeknd’s song, off his 2018 EP My Dear Melancholy, is similar to their song “Vibeking,” which they created in April 2015. Fox and Strange then claim they sent the song to the Weeknd’s engineer PNDA on April 27, 2015, and that PNDA told them on April 29 that the Weeknd replied, “shits fiiiire,” to the track. The lawsuit cites multiple alleged messages between PNDA and Fox and Strange since, confirming the Weeknd liked the song. PNDA allegedly wrote to Strange following an October 2016 message, “Just gonna tell [THE WEEKND] that our production team wrote the track. Cool? Or u have another idea? Just don’t wanna say ‘hey, [STRANGE] wrote this’ when he doesn’t know you.” Strange allegedly replied that he did know the Weeknd, and to tell the Weeknd they met at a Drake tour stop.
The case goes on to claim “Call Out My Name” is similar to “Vibeking” (which does not appear to be available on streaming) in key, meter, and tempo, and in the melody of the hook, and that the Weeknd never received consent from Fox and Strange before releasing the song. “The Weeknd is no stranger to accusations of infringement, and this one is probably the most egregious claim against him and his team to date,” Stephen M. Doniger, the lawyer for Fox and Strange, told Pitchfork, alluding to past copyright claims against the musician.
Upon its release in April 2018, “Call Out My Name” set a record for the most first-day streams of a song on Spotify, and reached No. 4 on the Hot 100. Fox and Strange are seeking all of the profits from “Call Out My Name,” on top of a to-be-determined amount in losses. Additionally, the producers are requesting that the Weeknd stop performing and using the song until they authorize it.