Rapper Lil Wayne says he has been duped out of millions of dollars from Universal Music Group after discovering and mentoring big music acts.
In a suit filed by the producer’s attorneys on Monday, the rapper, whose real name is Dwayne Carter Jr., is suing UMG and SoundExchange – a nonprofit that collects and distributes digital performance royalties on behalf of copyright owners – claiming the companies owe him $40 million in royalties for discovering and nurturing hip-hop acts Nicki Minaj, Drake and Tyga.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the complaint, issued by Howard E. King, states:
“With Universal’s knowledge of Lil Wayne’s rights to partial ownership and profits from those artists, Universal and Cash Money entered into a series of agreements which, among other things, diverted Lil Wayne’s substantial profits to repay debts of Cash Money. As a result, 100% of the profits that should have been paid to Lil Wayne as a result of his ownership of Drake, Nicki Minaj and Tyga records have been seized by Universal to repay debts that were neither incurred by nor were the obligations of Lil Wayne.”
It continues saying that Carter’s label, Young Money, is a joint venture with Universal’s Cash Money designed to manufacture, promote, distribute and exploit performances of new artists Carter discovered and signed to his label.
Carter claims a 2003 agreement states that profits made by YML “would be divided 51% – 49% between Cash Money and Carter, and ownership of all the Young Money Label property, (e.g., master recordings, copyrights, intellectual property, good will) similarly would be owned 51% – 49% between Cash Money and Carter, respectively.”
The agreement was extended multiple times and expired in June last year, leaving Drake’s next album in limbo.
King believes UMG “should be grateful and respectful to Lil Wayne for the millions of dollars in distribution fees and profits they have earned on the artists he brought to the company, instead of seizing all of his profits on those artists in a desperate attempt to recoup the tens of millions of dollars they are owed by Cash Money Records,” the lawyer said in a statement to THR Monday.
In response, a Universal spokesman told The Hollywood Reporter the company was not surprised to learn about the suit through the media. He adds that UMG does not “intend to dignify this with further public comment except to say that we will vigorously contest it and that the merits of our case will carry the day.”
Carter’s suit also says, “Universal has claimed a right to 100% of the label performance royalties attributed to the YME Records” and “SoundExchange refuses to pay any of the money due to Young Money LLC and Carter individually based on Universal’s conflicting demand,” THR reports.
Earlier this month, a lawyer who previously worked with Carter sued the rapper for $300,000. According to the New York Daily News, attorney Michael B. Kramer and Lil Wayne agreed that the Grammy-winner had $350,000 of outstanding legal fees in December 2015. The pair arranged for the rapper to pay the amounts back starting with $50,000 down that month. Precisely $20,000 would be paid each month starting in January until the amount was paid off. Weezy sent in payments until February.
In 2012, he was previously ordered to pay the son of legendary producer Quincy Jones $2.2 million for loss of profits stemming from the rapper’s public disapproval of Quincy Jones III’s film.