NEW ORLEANS – A legal battle between artist Dwayne Carter Jr.., also known as Lil Wayne, and Bryan “Birdman” Williams over $51 million in royalties allegedly owed to Lil Wayne continues to drag on in a Louisiana state court, even as Lil Wayne released a track with no mention of Williams' Young Money record label’s joint venture with Cash Money Records.
Wayne’s lawyers filed numerous document requests and interrogatories to Cash Money as part of the legal proceedings, but Cash Money has been slow to fully respond to those requests, delivering heavily redacted documents. Wayne subsequently filed a motion asking the court to order Cash Money to submit specified documents and provide witnesses for deposition.
“Birdman and Cash Money are drawing the case out as much as they can, a tactic that can be used to encourage the plaintiffs to settle,” attorney Jessica Meiselman of Lowis & Gellen LLP told the Louisiana Record.
The document requests question Universal Music Group’s deal with Cash Money; documents supporting allegations that Cash Money spent $70 million of advances and recording and marketing costs earmarked for Lil Wayne and other Young Money artists; and documents related to Lil Wayne’s attempted delivery of his album Tha Carter V.
“Cash Money has responded to these requests in the scarcest way, offering a heavily redacted version of their distribution agreement with UMG and a large volume of other, largely unhelpful, documents,” Meiselman said.
In the past, Lil Wayne has claimed that he is not free to release music outside of the Young Money joint venture with Cash Money, but he recently released music that did not credit the joint venture, only Young Money Entertainment, which is a separate entity that is owned completely by Lil Wayne.
Lil Wayne himself entered into the joint venture with Cash Money, holding a 49 percent stake in the imprint venture and playing a key role in the label’s success. However, numerous disputes between Lil Wayne and Williams surfaced in the previous decade, prompting several settlements and changes to Lil Wayne’s Cash Money deals.
In the aftermath of those agreements and revisions, Lil Wayne filed a lawsuit, raising allegations that Cash Money owed him more than $50 million in royalty payments and advances. The lawsuit also claimed that Cash Money breached its contract with Lil Wayne.
The original lawsuit filed in New York was withdrawn last year, but Lil Wayne subsequently filed an almost identical suit in Louisiana. That lawsuit is still pending amid the myriad discovery delays.
“Although the case pertains to various breaches of contract and money owed to Wayne, an issue at the heart of the Louisiana case today is whether or not Wayne is still under contract with Cash Money,” Meiselman said. “In the summer of 2015, by Wayne’s interpretation of his contract, the Young Money joint venture came to a close.”
However, Meiselman said Cash Money claimed that Lil Wayne did not meet his contractual obligation to complete 21 albums at a rate of three albums per year in the 2008 to 2015, the contract period. As a result, the label claims Lil Wayne will be still under contract until he meets those obligations.
Lil Wayne claims in his lawsuit that he tried to deliver master recordings as required, but that he was unable to do so.