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Judge Upholds Verdict in Cardi B’s Mixtape Cover Case

Updated: Jan 2, 2023

The "Foreva" rapper got a victory in court regarding the cover of her mixtape.

Cardi B has been fighting a few legal battles since 2017, most notably, her lawsuit against YouTuber(Leon Bennett/WireImage)

Cardi B has been wrapped in a court battle surrounding the photo featured on the cover of her mixtape, Gangsta Bitch Music Vol. 1. A California jury found her not liable for using Kevin Brophy’s tattoo as part of her mixtape’s cover.

The cover features the rapper receiving fellatio from a man while she drinks a bottle of liquor. The man in the photo has a back tattoo on full display. Brophy alleges that his own back tattoo was photoshopped onto the man’s back. He sued Cardi B for $5 million in 2017 for the alleged misappropriation of his likeness. 

The court found the rapper not liable in its October 2022 verdict, but Brophy requested for the verdict to be thrown out. U.S. Court Judge Cormac J. Carney says the request came too late and it lacked merit. 

“…the jury could have reasonably concluded that the back tattoo on the model on the mixtape cover at issue in this suit was not sufficiently identifiable with Brophy to constitute misappropriation of his likeness or depiction in a false light,” Carney explained. “Because the model’s face is not visible, identification based on facial appearance is impossible.”

Judge Carney further explained that Brophy’s tattoo “played a minor role in what was a larger visual commentary on sexual politics.” He notes Cardi’s testimony where she states the purpose of the mixtape was to show her in control while also reversing traditional gender roles. 

“It is hard to see how the cover’s economic value derived at all from Brophy’s tattoo,” Carney noted. “Despite any contrary evidence that Brophy presented, the jury was within reason to find that the use of the tattoo was transformative.”

The decision marks the end of a five-year court battle, during which Cardi endured other legal battles. The Bronx rapper once went to court in 2019 to sue YouTuber Tasha K, real name Latasha Kebe, for defamation, invasion of privacy, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The jury in that case sided with Cardi and ordered the YouTuber to pay $3.8 million.

Cardi also pled guilty to two misdemeanor charges related to an August 2018 incident at a Queens strip club. Two bartenders say that the “Bodak Yellow” rapper ordered her friends to attack them using bottles and a hookah.

Regarding her music, Cardi signed with new management earlier this year. Billboard also reported that a new album is on the way in 2023.

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