So a rapper, a former baseball star, and a hip-hop CEO walk into a courtroom...
On Monday Megan Thee Stallion filed a lawsuit against her record label 1501 Entertainment and its CEO, Carl Crawford, to be released from her contract. Despite earning the label $7 million in revenue, the lawsuit claims the rapper (whose legal name is Megan Pete) has only received $15,000. On Thursday, Rap-a-Lot Records founder James “J.” Prince, who was named in the lawsuit, responded at length on Instagram—saying Pete’s affadavit is “full of slanderous lies.”
There are a lot of interesting details to this story. For instance: Yes, Carl Crawford is the very same Carl Crawford who, in a past life, played baseball for the Tampa Bay Rays, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Boston Red Sox. And as Slate notes, Rap-A-Lot Records founder J. Prince proved an instrumental resource to Crawford as he made his career transition. But as Slate notes, both Crawford and Prince seemed to become territorial over Pete after she signed with Jay Z’s label, Roc Nation.
Hints of trouble first appeared on the horizon Sunday, when Pete posted videos on her Instagram story about her contract dispute with 1501. “When I signed, I didn’t really know what was in my contract,” she said in one video. “I was young—I think I was like 20, and I didn’t know everything that was in that contract. So when I got with Roc Nation, I got real management. I got real lawyers. And they was like, ‘Do you know that this is in your contract?’ And I was like, ‘Oh damn, that’s crazy. No, I didn’t know.’”
But when Pete asked to renegotiate her 1501 contract, she said in the video, “It just all went bad. It all went left. So now they telling a bitch that she can’t drop no music. It’s really just, like, a greedy game.”
A judge granted Pete a temporary restraining order Wednesday, which will allow her to release her next album, Suga, as planned on Friday.
Crawford responded to Pete’s Sunday videos with his own Instagram post—a photo of himself with J. Prince, which he captioned, “At a time when loyalty is at an all time low it’s nice to be link with [Prince] who is steady teaching me how to move in this cutthroat industry.”
“I know that terrifies some,” he added, “especially the ones who double cross me.” He ended with the hashtags #Paybacksabitch, #1501, and #mobties.”
According to Billboard, Pete mentioned Crawford’s post in court, where she claimed that after she signed with Roc Nation last fall, she believes Crawford and 1501 had her “attacked, and threatened on social media.” Billboard reports that in court, Pete also claimed she believes Crawford and others distributed her mug shot and arrest story from five years ago to harm her career.
Pete’s lawsuit also alleges that Crawford uses his relationship with Prince to intimidate others in the industry, TMZ reports. On one occasion, for instance, she claims Crawford pressured a producer to hand over recordings by saying that Prince would be angry if they didn’t comply. Per TMZ, the suit states, “Prince is notorious in the industry for strong-armed intimidation tactics, and the comment was taken as a physical threat of harm.”
Prince used the same photo of himself and Crawford that the 1501 CEO had posted in his earlier response to Pete. His statement referred back to the tension that began with Pete’s Roc Nation pact.
“We as independent record labels make many sacrifices along with our artists,” Prince wrote Thursday. “After we do all the hard work together with artists, it’s a known fact that major record labels and established managers attempt to poach the fruits of our labor. ... These record labels and managers don’t want shit to do with these artists until the hard work, risk, sacrifices, and resources have been spent by the little guys. This is the same technique of the culture vultures.”
“For the record we have no problem with negotiating with Megan,” Prince added later, “but we do have a problem with dictators. I find it very interesting that Roc Nation would allow their employee to sign an affidavit and statement full of slanderous lies on my methods of doing business when we have partnered together on several occasions. I don’t think Jay Z is aware of this but only time will tell.”
Prince suggested that Pete might have been brainwashed by her attorneys, adding, “Megan seems to be a perfect candidate for self destruction.”
Pete’s lawsuit states that her contract grants 1501 Entertainment 60 percent of her recording income, Billboard reports—but it’s Pete’s 40 percent cut that pays third-party producers, mixers, remixers, and featured artists. Although Prince claims in his Instagram post that “[a]ny artist in the music industry will testify that a 40% profit share is a great deal,” Pete’s lawsuit alleges that the contract is well below industry standards. And it bears repeating: She alleges that despite generating $7 million in revenue for 1501, she has only received $15,000.
Megan Thee Stallion responded to Prince’s posts with a statement, which her representatives provided to The Daily Beast. “I’m extremely pleased that 1501 and Carl Crawford were denied the request to dissolve the Court order and try to stop my music from being released,” she said. “I will proceed with the release of ‘SUGA’ on Friday March 6.”
“To be clear, I will stand up for myself and won’t allow two men to bully me,” she continued. “This has nothing to do with anyone else including JAY-Z, stop deflecting and trying to make this a publicity stunt. I want my rights.”
Pete goes on to say that 1501 did not want to approve the budget for her album, Suga, and that they have attempted to fight the court’s decision that they must let her release the music. “I don’t own my masters,” Pete adds in her statement. “1501 owns 50% of my copyright and 100% of the admin rights... I can be fined if I’m late to the studio by 1501.”
“Carl has never spent hundreds of thousands of dollars,” Pete added, countering Prince’s claim about how much Crawford had invested in her career before she signed with Roc Nation, “but all will be sorted in court.”
“Carl should speak for himself,” she added. “All the facts are public record available at the courthouse in Houston.”