Kevin Michael Brophy, a self-described family man, is suing Cardi B in a $5 million copyright-infringement lawsuit over a tattoo.
He claims to have been humiliated after the famed rapper allegedly misused his likeness for sexually suggestive mixtape cover art. Brophy's lawyer A. Barry Cappello, during opening arguments on Tuesday, said his client's life was disrupted and he suffered distress because of the 2016 artwork.
The Gangsta Bitch Music Vol. 1 mixtape cover image shows a tattooed man from behind with his head between the rapper's legs. The man's face cannot be seen.
The Controversial Tattoo
Cappello said photo-editing software was used to put the back tattoo, which has appeared in tattoo magazines, onto the male model used in the mixtape cover.
The tattoo in question is quite distinctive...a tiger and a snake fighting. It covers Brophy's entire back. The tattoo, designed by Brophy and Tim Hendricks, took 50 to 60 hours to produce over the course of a year and a half.
Brophy believes his tattoo is so unique that people recognize him just from seeing it. Cappello said the image used by Cardi B disturbed Brophy and his wife, Michelle Brophy, whi he says questioned her husband if it was him in the cover art. The lawsuit claims that Cardi B portrayed Brophy in a false light by insinuating that he had sexual relations with her.
The Grammy-winning musician had previously claimed that Brophy's tattoo art was superimposed without her knowledge on the back of a male mode who posed with her for the photo. Cardi B said it's clear the image is not of the same person. In 2019, the singer indicated that the lawsuit was not worth her time, especially considering the fact that the mixtape in question earned less than $1 million. Cardi B claimed that the lawsuit was unnecessarily taking time away from her child. She also called the case "bullshit".
Brophy considers his back tattoo to be a "Michalangelo piece", but has since become "raunchy and disgusting". He claims to have sent a cease-and-desist letter to the singer's representatives to remove the tattoo. "For me, it was something I took a lot of pride in. Now, that image feels devalued. I feel robbed. I feel completely disregarded. There's a lot of things I would like to be spending time on. But the only way to get this removed was to come here to this courtroom."
Cardi B's Defense
Peter Anderson, Cardi B's lawyer, highlighted that Brophy and the mixtape image are unrelated. He pointed out that the model did not have tattoos on his neck, while Brophy does. "Brophy's face wasn't on the mixtape," Anderson said. "She (Cardi B) was already popular. It has nothing to do with Brophy. While they claim that's Brody's likeness, that's a black man with hair (referring to the album cover). And this is a white man (Brody) with a shaven head."
The lawyer called the tattoo "commonplace", one of many tiger tattoos that just happened to be plucked from the web.
This lawsuit was initially filed in 2017.