Frank Ocean is suing producer Om’Mas Keith over songwriting credits on the singer’s 2016 album, Blonde. The suit also names Keith’s Analog Genius Corporation and several unnamed John Does as defendants, arguing none of them “own any portion of the copyright rights” to Ocean’s music.
The suit claims that Ocean’s lawyers tried several times between 2014 and 2016 to get Keith to sign a written agreement stating that he did not write any of the songs on Blonde. However, the producer allegedly refused and in 2016 tried to register as a co-writer on 11 Blonde tracks with the publishing giant ASCAP.
The suit states that Ocean “has never written any compositions with [Keith]… Moreover, all of the Compositions and the ASCAP Compositions were written well before Defendants, or any of them, rendered any services whatsoever in connection with any of the masters. Defendants did not contribute any lyrics, melodies, or music that would give rise to any claim of authorship.”
Lawyers for Ocean were not available for comment. Keith did not immediately return Rolling Stone‘s request for comment.
Prior to his work on Blonde, Keith helped produce Ocean’s breakout album, Channel Orange. When Ocean approached him to work on Blonde, the suit alleges, they entered into an oral agreement that mirrored the written agreement Keith signed for his work on Channel Orange. That agreement stipulated that Keith would produce certain master recordings, receive a flat rate and acknowledge that he did not write or co-write any of the tracks.
In all, Keith was given 12 songs to produce from the Blonde sessions, including “Nikes,” White Ferrari” and “Pink and White.” But when Ocean’s lawyers approached him in 2014 with a draft of a written agreement, Keith refused to sign it. He supposedly even refused to acknowledge that he had not served as a writer on “(At Your Best) You Are Love,” an Isley Brothers tune Ocean covered in 2015 (it later appeared on Ocean’s visual album, Endless). Keith supposedly refused to sign another agreement when Ocean’s lawyers approached him again in 2016.
After Keith refused to sign the 2016 agreement, Ocean’s team tried to get the producer to “provide a detailed account” of the writing work he did on Blonde, though the suit claims the “Defendants and their counsel failed to respond.” Not long after, Keith allegedly tried to register with ASCAP as a co-writer on 11 Blonde songs. Similar to the supposed Isley Brothers issue, one of the songs Keith reportedly tried to claim he co-wrote was “Be Yourself,” which comprises a sample of Buddy Ross’ “Runnin Around” and a spoken word segment.
Ocean is asking a judge to rule that Keith and the other defendants do not own any portion of his songs and must stop claiming that they helped write them. The singer is also seeking legal fees and additional relief the court deems necessary.