Nicki Minaj Huge Hit 'Starships' Is a Rip-Off ... According to Lawsuit

9/12/2013 5:55 AM PDT

Nicki Minaj -- Massive Hit 'Starships' Is a Rip-Off ... According to Lawsuit

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Nicki Minaj's massive hit "Starships" is full-on deja vu to EDM star Clive Tanaka -- because it sounds pretty damn identical to a song he released a year before Nicki's ... and now he's suing her over it.

Tanaka filed a federal suit in Chicago this week against Nicki, 3 writers, and the song's producer -- claiming copyright infringement on his 2011 tune ... "Neu Chicago."

Listen to a snippet of "Starships" ... which came out in 2012 ... and then listen to Tanaka's song (below).

Tanaka went so far as to edit both songs on top of each other ... and posted the end result.

The only question we have is ... what took Tanaka so long to sue?