Jay-Z is being sued over royalties for his 1996 album Reasonable Doubt, the debut record that put the now 48-year-old rapper on the map.
The complaint, filed by Raynard Herbert (“Ray Rae”) in the southern district of New York, claims that Herbert was responsible for arranging the music for Roc-A-Fella records and entered into a distribution agreement with Priority Records in exchange for 1% of the profits. Herbert received royalty checks beginning in December 1998 but alleges he was never paid after November 2008. Additionally, he claims to have made numerous inquiries after 2008 about the status of alleged outstanding payments.
Among the defendants in the suit are Jay-Z, Damon Dash and Kareem Burke, both executive producers on Reasonable Doubt, as well as Roc-A-Fella, Jay-Z’s record label, and Roc Nation. In the court filing, obtained by Pitchfork, Herbert’s attorney Kevon Glickman claims the plaintiff “is not presently aware of the exact amounts of damages resulting from defendants’ breach” but adds that “the sum of money is substantial”.
The filing also alleges Jay-Z’s failure to pay Herbert constitutes an “oppressive, fraudulent” act of conversion “committed with malice and in conscious disregard of plaintiff’s rights”. Last month it was also that the rapper and father of three would have to testify in court as part of an ongoing investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission into his clothing brand Rocawear, which he co-founded in 1999. The brand is under scrutiny for financial reporting after the company Iconix paid Jay-Z $200m in 2007 for it.
He is also seeking $480,000 from the Weinstein Company, which filed for bankruptcy in March, over two projects he executive-produced including Time: The Kalief Browder Story and the forthcoming Rest in Power: The Trayvon Martin Story. In a separate filing, the rapper Eminem alleges he is owed $352,000 by the Weinstein Company, founded by the disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein, for three songs he wrote for the film Southpaw.
Reasonable Doubt, released in the summer of 1996, has sold well over 2m copies and is widely regarded as a landmark achievement despite being the lowest-selling album of Jay-Z’s career. The rapper is currently on a 39-city stadium tour, On The Run II, with his wife, Beyoncé.
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