The parents of the little girl sampled at the beginning of Kanye West's hit "Ultralight Beam" said in a new lawsuit they did not give permission for their daughter's voice to be used — and that West never paid promised money.
"We don't want no devils in this house, we want the Lord," begins the opening track on West's 2016 Life of Pablo album, a sample that came from a video posted to Instagram of a four-year-old praying.
Andrew and Shirley Green, the parents of the child identified as N.G. in court documents, filed a lawsuit against West on Thursday in federal court in South Carolina.
They allege that West asked Alice Johnson, the biological mother of N.G. for permission to use their daughter's voice. However, the Greens said they were her legal guardians.
The sample came from mid January 2016, when Johnson and Andreia Samoria Green — who is also a plaintiff in the case — were about to travel on the highway and N.G. decided to pray over Samoria Green for good luck.
Johnson recorded a video of it and posted it on to Instagram, where it quickly went viral.
Around Feb. 8, 2018, a representative for West contacted Johnson for permission to use the sample, the lawsuit said, which includes both N.G. praying and Samoria Green responding to her.
In a phone call that took place between Feb 8 and 11, West's representative shared that the album was due to be released very shortly, the lawsuit said.
"During this conversation, Johnson verbally agreed to allow Defendant West to use the Green Samples in a song in his upcoming album in exchange for payment in an amount to be negotiated at a later date," reads the lawsuit.
On February 11, West played the song at Madison Square Garden during a listening party for the new album. West announced Life of Pablo was available for streaming during a performance of "Ultralight Beam" on Saturday Night Live on February 13.
However, the lawsuit argues that although Johnson recorded the video, she did not have authority to give permission for the sample of Samoria Green or N.G. to be used.
Through a family member, Shirley Green declined to comment to BuzzFeed News. BuzzFeed News has been unable to reach Johnson or Samoria Green.
The suit also notes that although West's representatives said they would send through a written license agreement and pay money for the sample, neither the agreement or any payment was ever received.
"Ultralight Beam," which also features Chance the Rapper, has been a massive international hit. Pitchfork named it their top song of 2016. It was nominated for two Grammys.
West's representatives didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.