On March 13, 2020, a Korean cartoon artist Lee Tae Yeon — by the nickname of Taetae and with an Instagram handle of @hugeriver8 — posted on a Korean website that his work has been stolen by the American rapper Lil Uzi Vert.
Under the post titled “Can I Sue This Dude?” Lee Tae Yeon wrote, “I shared the original on Facebook 6 years ago.”
My attempt at illustrating the heart drop.
— Lee Tae Yeon on November 7, 2014
The artist wanted to know if there would be any way to reach the rapper and get an apology.
So I’ve been told that some guy I’ve never heard of, Lil Uzi Vert or whatever, apparently stole my original work to use on his album cover. How do I f*cking get back at him for this? I have records of that artwork being shared on my Facebook 6 years ago and getting 50 or something Likes… I was just out here hanging out and all of a sudden I’ve become the designer for some rapper’s album cover? Ridiculous. I don’t want anything else, I just want his official apology. What do you guys think I should do? He probably won’t reply his DMs.
— Lee Tae Yeon
When another user on the website came across this post and decided to reach out to the artist who worked on the album cover for Lil Uzi Vert, @artxstic claimed that it is what the rapper wanted.
Lee Tae Yeon ended up posting his feelings on his Instagram, with a side-by-side comparison of the two illustrations:
View this post on Instagram
I am very upset that I have to write such an article. I saw lil uzi vert's latest album cover art and it was very similar to my painting. My picture was posted on my blog six years ago, and it is possible to use it for profile pictures or non-commercial purposes, but it is not allowed to use anything else. Now I'm very embarrassed and don't want to let this go. #liluzivert #liluzi #thatway #album #cover #art #painting #artist #plagiarism #릴우지버트 #릴우지 #표절 #하지마
And Lil Uzi Vert himself surfaced to respond:
Unfortunately, the internet is not impressed with the rapper’s reaction to the plagiarism allegation. Netizens are pointing out that Lil Uzi Vert should have apologized first — rather than immediately offer monetary compensation.
On the other hand, some netizens are siding with Lil Uzi Vert, commenting that the artist Lee Tae Yeon “should be honored” to have an American rapper be inspired by his “otherwise unnoticed” artwork.
Meanwhile, Lil Uzi Vert is yet to remove the allegedly plagiarized artwork from his Instagram feed: