The $500k ‘Dark Horse’: Why Katy Perry Has to Pay Half a Million to a Christian Rapper


Remember the days when Katy Perry was as popular as Taylor Swift? She quickly rose from her hit song “I Kissed a Girl” and took over the world.

The 34-year-old pop superstar has multiple music awards and rakes in millions of dollars each year, enough for Forbes to notice. Perry is even an American Idol judge now.

But with all the glamour and success she’s having, it seems that not everything is going to work out for her. Why? Because she has to follow the law and pay $500,000 to a Christian rapper.

The $500k ‘Dark Horse’: Why Katy Perry Has to Pay Half a Million to a Christian Rapper

The ‘Dark Horse’ Phenomenon

In September 2013, Katy Perry released the track “Dark Horse”, which featured Juicy J. It was her fourth album’s single, and it gave us a new, interesting sound from the pop artist.

“Dark Horse” was a clear indication of how pop and trap could rule the Billboard Hot 100. It featured Perry’s powerful vocals delivering a catchy hook and added in a sticky trap beat everyone could dance to.

The sound was minimalist, but it worked to accentuate Katy Perry. Plus, Juicy J was doing his thing and made the track slicker with a short yet sweet verse. 

“Dark Horse” would go on to land at No. 1 not only in the US but also in Canada and the Netherlands. It would earn a Grammy nomination and become the second best-selling song of 2014.

Not bad for a song that Katy Perry and Sarah Hudson thought of while writing in Santa Barbara, California, right? Well, turns out something wasn’t right after all.

The Beat Wasn’t Original After All

The Beat Wasn’t Original After All

On August 1, we got word that “Dark Horse” was the subject of copyright violation. The jury states that Perry’s global hit song copied another track. 

So where did the sound of “Dark Horse” come from? Apparently, it’s from “Joyful Noise”, a Christian rap song from someone named Marcus Gray, also known as Flame.

The lawsuit had been around since 2015. It took four years, but the wait was worth it for Marcus Gray and his team. For them, it was redemption.

And how much will Gray get? At least $2.78 million in damages. You’d think that’s too much for copying a song, but remember that “Dark Horse” sold 13 million units in 2014 alone.

The Los Angeles jury discovered that there indeed parts of “Dark Horse” that were too similar to “Joyful Noise”. So now Perry and her label have to pay up — and she must give the $500,000 herself.

Not That Big of a Hit for Katy Perry

Not That Big of a Hit for Katy Perry

For us, paying half a million in damages is a lot. But Katy Perry isn’t your average individual. According to Forbes, she’s already earned $57.5 million this year alone.

So even if she gives $500,000 she doesn’t have to feel bad about it at all. And the same goes for the record label Capitol Records, which purportedly earned $41 million from “Dark Horse”.

At the least, Marcus Gray gets what he deserves. His 2009 song was released in 2009 while “Dark Horse” was a 2013 track. 

That was a lot of time for Katy Perry’s producers and songwriters to hear “Joyful Noise”, especially since it had a Grammy nomination and millions of plays.