After Atlanta rapper and singer YFN Lucci released the song “Everyday We Lit,” the track became a mainstay on hip-hop radio in 2017, making it to No. 33 on the Billboard Hot 100.
But the song sounded a little too familiar to Paterson rapper Rackboy Cam.
His 2016 song “Everything Be Lit,” which had a similar chorus, was released months earlier. He had also previously met with YFN Lucci and PnB Rock, who is featured on “Everyday We Lit.”
In 2018, Rackboy Cam, born Anthony Campbell, sued YFN Lucci, aka Rayshawn Bennett, for copyright infringement in U.S. District Court in Georgia. He also sued PnB Rock, aka Rakim Allen, producer June “The Jenius” James and Think It’s a Game Records, YFN Lucci’s Atlanta-based label.
RackBoy Cam version of song:
YFN Lucci & PnB Rock version:
On March 2, Judge Charles A. Pannell Jr. issued a default judgment in Cam’s favor, awarding him $1,447,720 after PnB Rock and James, the producer, did not respond to the lawsuit, according to a court document reviewed by NJ Advance Media.
The judgment follows a 2019 settlement between Cam, Think It’s a Game Records and YFN Lucci for an undisclosed amount of money.
As part of this month’s judgment, Cam was awarded writer’s royalties from the song via both PnB Rock and James, at 50% each in perpetuity, as well as royalties from a remix featuring Lil Yachty and Wiz Khalifa. The rapper also receives prejudgment interest at 6.25% per year for the nearly three-year period since the lawsuit was filed on March 13, 2018, and $4,576.82 in out-of-pocket legal costs, bringing the total to more than $1.7 million.
“I feel like it was pretty fair,” Cam, 27, tells NJ Advance Media. “I’m blessed, I’m satisfied. I feel like this is a big statement for Jersey because I feel like we don’t get the credit.”
Cam’s “Everything Be Lit” features Brooklyn rapper Maino, who delivers the “everything be lit” chorus, and Harlem rapper Vado. In YFN Lucci’s “Everyday We Lit,” both Lucci and PnB Rock are on the chorus. A video for that song, released in 2017, has more than 168 million views on YouTube.
The judge ruled that PnB Rock and James can’t promote, distribute or publicly perform the song without Rackboy Cam’s permission.
Cam says that Think It’s a Game Records previously expressed interest in signing him.
“I had a relationship with PnB,” Cam says of the singer and rapper from Philadelphia. “I was around him for a period of time.”
When “Everyday We Lit” came out, people began asking Cam about the links to his song. From there, he started to look into copyright infringement and retained an attorney.
The Paterson rapper says PnB Rock had come to his show where he performed “Everything Be Lit.” Before suing, he says he attempted to contact the artist to reach a resolution about the two songs.
Cam says his lawyer, Chris Niro, found 60 to 70 similarities between the “Everyday We Lit” and “Everything Be Lit.”
Niro says that considering he had to show that the songs were substantially similar and that the alleged infringers had access to the other song before writing their own, the timeline in the case was “astounding.”
“Not only did Cam go down to Atlanta and meet with TIG (Think it’s a Game Records) about this song, he also met with PnB Rock and YFN Lucci and then six months later, YFN Lucci and PnB Rock come out with a song that is pretty darn similar to it,” Niro tells NJ Advance Media. “I mean, it really reeks of some foul play.”
While the songs are in different keys and different tempos, lining up the lyrics side by side produces a similar layout, he says. “We’re happy with how the judge handled this case.”
“For all the independent artists out there, music is one thing, but make sure you handle your business — you’re copyrighting your music and things of that nature — because, man, the game is dangerous out here,” Cam says. “People will take your music and being that they’ve got the engine and the label to push it, they take it and won’t really give a f—. If you don’t have your business handled, you won’t be able to protect yourself, fight for what’s yours.”
NJ Advance Media has reached out to representatives of YFN Lucci, PnB Rock and Think It’s a Game Records.
“I’m just happy that it’s finally over, justice is served,” Cam says.
The rapper’s song “Big League” has been in rotation on Hot 97 and other radio stations, and a video for his song “Fast Lane,” released in 2020, has more than three million views on YouTube.
“I inspired another artist to make a big record,” Cam says. “Now it’s time for me to do the same thing for myself.”