Rapper 2 Milly is pursuing legal action against Fortnite developer Epic Games over the use of 2 Milly’s “Milly Rock” dance in the battle royale game.
Fortnite re-packages 2 Milly’s signature dance, popularized in 2014 with his “Milly Rock” video, as a purchasable emote called “Swipe It,” effectively erasing the context and history of the dance move. 2 Milly will take action against Epic for its “misappropriation, use, and sale” of the dance. The Brooklyn-based rapper told Kotaku in July that Epic did not reach out to him regarding compensation or attribution.
“This isn’t the first time that Epic Games has brazenly misappropriated the likeness of African-American talent,” 2 Milly’s lawyer, David Bainbridge, said in a statement. “Our client Lenwood ‘Skip’ Hamilton is pursuing similar claims against Epic for use of his likeness in the popular ‘Cole Train’ character in the Gears of Wars video game franchise. Epic cannot be allowed to continue to take what does not belong to it.”
Black musicians have been outspoken about Epic’s use of their creative work in-game without attribution or compensation. Chance the Rapper tweeted in July that Epic capitalized on work from black creatives—effectively whitewashing the moves. “Imagine the money people are spending on these emotes being shared with the artists that made them,” Chance the Rapper wrote. Other emotes include Snoop Dogg’s “Drop It Like It’s Hot” dance, called the “Tidy” emote, and BlocBoy JB’s “Shoot.”
Epic has made more than $300 million from the free game’s iOS version alone, according to statistics website Sensor Tower. That’s all thanks to the game’s buyable content, like skins and emotes. In July, SuperData Research reported a massive $1 billion in revenue generated from Fortnite across all platforms.
At the most recent count in late November, Fortnite has more than 200 million registered players.
“I was never compensated by Epic Games for their use of the ‘Milly Rock,’” 2 Milly said. “They never even asked my permission.”