Last week, in an interesting example of New York contract law, Grammy Award winning rap artist Dwayne Michael Carter Jr., a/k/a Lil Wayne, filed a lawsuit against his record label, Cash Money Records, Inc., in New York demanding $51 million.
While the relationship between Carter and Cash Money legally began in 1998 according to the November 1, 1998 Recording Agreement, Carter met the CEO of Cash Money, Bryan Williams, a/k/a Baby or Birdman, in 1993, at just 11 years old. The two became so close that Carter often referred to Williams as his father, as evidenced by their duet album, Like Father, Like Son.
Carter has released ten studio albums as a Cash Money artist and sold over 15 million records. He has been so successful that Carter has been called the best rapper alive.
Lil Wayne and Cash Money intended to make “A Milli” or two
According to the January 29th complaint, the feud between Carter and Cash Money has been building up for years. Their 1998 Recording Agreement has been amended many times. Most notably, in 2003, Cash Money and Carter created Young Money Entertainment, home to household names like Nicki Minaj and Drake. Together, they agreed to split profit and ownership of all Young Money property (including intellectual property) 51% – 49%. In later contract updates, Cash Money agreed to register Carter as a joint for designated recordings, to pay Carter a $10 million advance per solo album and to pay Carter one third of profits for Drake’s solo recordings.
Lil Wayne wants to know “Where da cash at?”
Carter alleges that Cash Money has failed to pay him his share of profits due with respect to Young Money Entertainment artists (including Drake). Carter also claims he only received $2 million of the $10 million advance owed for the recording and production of Tha Carter V.
Even more interesting is the fact that Carter accuses Cash Money of failing to properly register the copyright in Young Money recordings, as well as Carter’s own work, as jointly owned by Carter/Young Money LLC and Cash Money.