Fortnite has been a colossal success for publisher Epic Games, but Epic has not made a habit of sharing that notoriety with the predominantly black artists whose dances helped turn it into a global phenomenon.
This has led to (for-now dropped) lawsuits from the likes of rapper 2 Milly and Fresh Prince actor Alfonso Ribeiro, both of whom created dances featured in the game. Now, Epic finally seems to be changing course.
According to a tweet from dancer, comedian, and noted Static-Shock-liker YouFunnyB, Epic worked with him to add his popular dance, the Billy Bounce, to the game.
“S/o Fortnite for letting me add my dance to the game,” he wrote. “Did it for yah of course. Yah enjoy yourselves… First dance from the [D.C., Maryland, Virginia area] to be put [in] Fortnite.”
In an email to Kotaku, Epic acknowledged the collaboration, but declined to provide further details.
S/o @fortnite for letting me add my dance to the game #billybounce . Did it for yah of course???????????????????? yah enjoy yourselves????#billybouncemovement— #FreeYouFunnyB (@FreeYoufunnyB) May 23, 2019
First dance from the #DMV to be put on fortnite pic.twitter.com/LNdclAwd0Z
As Polygon points out, while the Billy Bounce costs approximately $7 in-game, it’s not clear whether YouFunnyB is being compensated.
He’s also not directly credited in the game. Kotaku reached out to YouFunnyB for more details on the terms of the collaboration, but he had not replied as of this publishing.
On Instagram and Twitter, YouFunnyB’s fans have taken to saying that Epic should cut him a check and put his name up in lights—or at least, put his name up at all. He doesn’t seem too miffed about how things turned out, though.
“No, they just didn’t credit me,” he wrote in an Instagram comment. “But I’m not trippin. I know yah wanted the dance on fort so we made that happen for yah. all that matters shlim.”
Given the reactions (and lawsuits) that have transpired so far, other artists might not be on the same page. One of the big points of contention from creators like 2 Milly isn’t just that Epic has used dances that they created in the game; it’s that it slapped new names on them and failed to make it apparent who was responsible for them.
“[If Epic] would have incorporated the song along with the dance title ‘MillyRock’ in Fortnite instead of not using the record and changing the name to the ‘Swipe It,’ stealing away from my artwork, then I’d might be OK with it if we worked out some type of agreement,” 2 Milly told Kotaku last year.
“I do take it as a very big deal. I just wish [Epic] would have reached out with a payout and a contract being that I am solely the creator of the Dance And Song MillyRock,” he said. “I don’t feel it’s appropriate that my art (dance) which is a big part of culture is basically stolen.”
This collaboration is a step in the right direction, but perhaps a smaller one than some might have hoped.