Rihanna’s company, Fenty, is being sued for $10M after a song choice at their fashion show last year caused backlash.
For those who aren’t aware, Rihanna’s Savage X Fenty 2020 fall show attracted criticism back in October last year when a song that sampled religious Islamic scripture was played during the runway.
The song in question, titled “Doom” and produced by Coucou Chloe, included a remixed verse which relayed Islamic proverbs known as Hadiths, which are “narrative records of the sayings or customs of the prophet Muhammad and his companions.” The text is considered sacred to the Muslim community.
After the show, which was live-streamed to millions of people, fans were quick to call Rihanna out for her inclusion of the song, labeling her “disrespectful” and accusing her of appropriating the sacred Islamic text.
Coucou Chloe responded to the backlash immediately, issuing a series of tweets explaining that she “hadn’t researched” the samples used in the song, which she said was found online.
“I want to deeply apologize for the offence caused by the vocal samples used in my song ‘DOOM’,” Chloe tweeted. “The song was created using samples from Baile Funk tracks I found online. At the time, I was not aware that these samples used text from an Islamic Hadith.”
“I take full responsibility for the fact I did not research these words properly and want to thank those of you who have taken the time to explain this to me,” she went on. “We have been in the process of having the song urgently removed from all streaming platforms.”
Rihanna — who was recently declared a billionaire — apologized days later in a statement issued to her Instagram story, calling the incident an “honest, yet careless mistake.”
“We understand that we have hurt many of our Muslim brothers and sisters, and I’m incredibly disheartened by this!” she wrote. “I do not play with any kind of disrespect toward God or any religion and therefore the use of the song in our project was completely irresponsible!”
“Moving forward we will make sure nothing like this ever happens again,” she went on. “Thank you for your forgiveness and understanding, Rih.”
But while Rihanna’s statement was largely positively received, the fashion show is now drawing attention again, after the artist of the song decided to sue Rihanna’s team for the emotional damage she allegedly endured after their “mistake.”
According to a new lawsuit filed anonymously over the weekend and quoted by TMZ, Rihanna’s team reportedly reached out to the artist in question — who used the pseudonym Jane Doe to protect her identity — asking to use one of her songs.
The artist allegedly sent Rihanna’s team two different versions of the song — one including the Islamic proverbs being chanted, and one without — and allegedly requested that the team behind the show didn’t play the version with the proverbs.
However, the lawsuit states that the version with the sacred proverbs was mistakenly played, despite the prior warning.
The artist claimed that she’d been afraid for her safety following the incident, alleging that she’d been sent abusive death threats which were so extreme that she’d had to “go into hiding.”
What’s more, the artist also claimed that she’s been suffering from depression and anxiety following the incident and the abuse she’s received since — and is seeking $10M in damages as a result.
BuzzFeed News has reached out to spokespersons for Rihanna for comment.