Good Kid, Maad Artist: How one of Hip-Hop’s emerging superstars is in trouble for Copyright Infringement

By Jameel Odom

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A freelance photographer named Giordano Cipriani is accusing Grammy winning rapper Kendrick Lamar of copyright infringement. Mr. Cipriani is claiming that Kendrick Lamar took his photo of a woman breastfeeding and used it to promote his hit single “Blacker the Berry, off of his second album “To Pimp A Butterfly.” According to the court documents, Kendrick Lamar was never granted permission for this use and now Mr. Capriani has filed a federal lawsuit demanding Kendrick to stop using his photo and to pay up. Specifically, the lawsuit involves Kendrick Lamar, Interscope records, and Aftermath Entertainment.

Mr. Cipriani is claiming that he shot the photo in Africa in 2011. Mr. Cipriani is claiming that the rapper never asked permission to use the photo nor did any of the record labels pay him to use it, according to the suit filed July 10th in New York Federal Court. He is demanding an injunction against Kendrick to stop him from continuing to use his work, along with damages for the unauthorized use of his photo.

Mr. Cipriani is a freelance photographer who has had his art featured in a variety of different publications. He earns his living by licensing the rights to his artwork.

Kendrick Lamar Duckworth, who performs as Kendrick Lamar, was born in Compton, California. He is an American rapper and songwriter best known for his interesting take on life on Southern California’s tough streets, and for his affiliation with rap star and super-producer Dr. Dre. He has quickly moved up the ranks as one of the most talented artists rapping. Most recently, Lamar received a total of seven Grammy

nominations at the 56th annual Grammy Awards, including Best New Artist, Album of the Year, and Best Rap Song. A year later, at the 57th Annual Grammy Awards, Lamar won Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Single for his single entitled, “I.” In March 2015, Lamar released his third album “To Pimp a Butterfly” to worldwide acclaim. The album peaked at number one in various countries, including the U.S. and the UK.

The suit states that when Kendrick released his album “To Pimp a Butterfly” in March of this year, he used Mr. Ciprani’s photo to promote his single “Blacker the Berry” on his Youtube and Facebook pages.

Mr. Ciprani wants Kendrick Lamar to pay him $150,000 each time the photo was used, as well as pay his lawyers fees.

As of now, Kendrick Lamar’s management has not responded to Mr. Ciprani’s accusations.




  • Cipriani v. Kendrick Lamar Duckworth et al, Docket No. 1:15-cv-04078
  • (E.D.N.Y. Jul 10, 2015).
  • Rose Lilah, Kendrick Lamar Facing Lawsuit Over “The Blacker The Berry” Artwork, Hot New Hip Hop, July 13, 2015,
  • the-berry-artwork-news.16459.html.