Cardi B made her first appearance in court Tuesday (Oct. 18) to battle a $5 million dollar lawsuit over “raunchy” cover art from a mixtape the rapper dropped six years ago, Rolling Stone reports.
The plaintiff is body-art aficionado and model Kevin Brophy, Jr. He claims his body art was used for the rap superstar’s 2016 mixtape Gangsta Bitch Music Vol. 1 cover. The cover art features Cardi in the back of a limousine, drinking from a bottle of Corona, and holding the back of man’s head in her hand as he appears to perform oral sex on her.
A Black male model posed for the original photo but later a digital artist replaced the model’s “cartoon-style back tattoo” with one he found on the internet. According to Brophy’s testimony, the tattoo artwork turned out to be part of a complex “back piece” which he considers a core piece of his identity.
“It felt like my Michelangelo was stolen off the wall and just literally ripped off and robbed and just put wherever these people wanted to put it,” he recounted. “It looks like I’m giving oral sex to somebody that’s not my wife, somebody that’s not my partner, and an image that I never signed off on, ever.”
He continued: “Being a father of two and a devoted husband and a man of faith as well, this goes against everything that I stand for, and I would never ever sign off on something like this.”
Cardi’s attorney Peter J. Anderson offered several points for the jury to consider on how people would probably not identify the man on the cover of Gangsta Bitch Music Vol. 1 cover with the plaintiff. Anderson pointed out that the man pictured on the cover is a Black man, whose hair is also visible in the photo. Brophy is Caucasian and keeps his hair shaved. Additionally, the model in the photo is missing another tattoo which appears on the plaintiff’s neck.
“They have not identified any person, any member of the public, any friend who said that,” Anderson said referring to the plaintiff possibly being identified by the cover art.
However, Brophy’s attorney’s argued that the Bronx rapper should have never used the body art at all.
“This was his likeness,” attorney A. Barry Cappello said. “It’s the personal property, it’s the personal identity of a private citizen, not another celebrity. This is a private person. Unless you ask for it or you pay for it, you can’t take it under the laws of the land… You can’t take somebody else’s image and do something offensive with it, hold it in a false light.”
Capello added that Cardi and her team “blew off” Brophy’s cease-and-desist letter sent in 2017, “they decided they would ruin a private family’s life for five years.”
The outlet noted that Cardi stood quietly in court Tuesday but she is due to take the witness stand later in the expected four-day civil trial.