Update (2/21): Kendrick Lamar and SZA are officially being sued for their "All the Stars" music video by Lina Iris Viktor, TMZ reports. The British-Liberian artist previously accused the artists of stealing her artwork titled "Constellations I," "Constellations II" and "Constellations III" in the video for the Black Panther soundtrack single. According to documents, Viktor calls their act "both an egregious violation of federal law and an affront to the artist, her livelihood, her legacy and to artists everywhere."
Along with suing for damages, TMZ claims Viktor is asking for an injunction that will prevent Kendrick and SZA from using her artwork to promote the song.
Original Story (2/12): Just days after Kendrick Lamar unleashed his stunning "All The Stars" video with SZA, an artist has come forth to accuse the rapper of stealing her artwork. British-Liberian artist Lina Iris Viktor has issued a letter (via her lawyer) that was sent to Top Dawg Entertainment label head Anthony Tiffith on Feb. 10 explaining the alleged copyright violation.
According to Viktor, one of her 24-karat gold, patterned artworks in her series of paintings “Constellations" was used without her permission, The New York Times reports. She states Marvel reps contacted her twice to have her work shown, but she declined. Even after she turned the offer down, the work (or something similar to it) was apparently used around the three-minute mark of the video. “The infringement of Ms. Viktor’s rights is willful and egregious,” the lawyer's letter says, adding that she is willing “to discuss a resolution of all her claims, consisting at a minimum of a public apology for the unauthorized use and a license fee.”
You can judge the comparisons for yourself below, but seeing the two images side by side does raise a few eyebrows as to why Lamar's camp would reportedly take artwork from an African artist for a video that is meant to praise African culture. “Why would they do this?" Viktor told NYT. "It’s an ethical issue, because what the whole film purports is that it’s about black empowerment, African excellence — that’s the whole concept of the story. And at the same time they’re stealing from African artists."
Lamar has not yet addressed the allegations, but instead tweeted a thank you note a day after Viktor's lawyer sent the copyright violation letter. Black Panther. Respect to all the artist/producers that allowed me to execute a sound for the soundtrack," it began. "The concept of producing and composing a project other than my own has always been ideal. I appreciate the experience love ones. Continue to be great." While this incident shouldn't take away from the Black excellence and anticipation surrounding the release of Black Panther and the "All the Stars" video, Viktor's rights as an artist—especially one of African heritage—needs to be highlighted. TDE should own up to their actions if the artwork was indeed stolen, and not ignore their accountability.
Black Panther arrives in theaters on Feb. 16. Next up, go back in time and watch an old-school Fuse x Kendrick interview at Bonnaroo: