A young Texas talent scout who discovered hip-hop star Drake is suing the entertainer’s managers — charging they are cheating him out of his share of royalties.
James “Jas” Prince, the son of Rock-A-Lot Records CEO J. Prince, claims in papers filed in Manhattan Supreme Court that Cortez Bryant, Gerald Roberson, Derrick Lawrence and their firms, including Aspire Music Group LLC, have refused to provide an accounting of what he is owed.
Prince’s attorney, James McMillan, said his client hasn’t received a nickel in more than a year even though Drake’s albums have generated millions of dollars in sales. He is asking the court to appoint a receiver.
“We have no idea how much is owed because they are hiding behind one guy,” McMillan said.
He said entertainment lawyer Ronald Sweeney represents both Drake’s managers and the record company that pays the royalties.Those companies are controlled by rapper Lil Wayne and have sold 5 million copies of Drake’s albums in recent years.
“It’s one big shell game,” McMillan said.
Court papers say that when Prince demanded an accounting, Drake’s managers referred him to Sweeney, who promised to comply but never did.
When Prince asked Lil Wayne’s companies directly for an accounting, they also referred him to Sweeney.
Sweeney declined comment.
In his papers, Prince said Drake himself is being cheated by his managers and is “on the brink” of suing Aspire and Bryant, who also manages Lil Wayne and Kanye West. He attached an April 2012 letter from Drake’s lawyer, Robert Meloni, to Aspire which terminates Drake’s exclusive contract with Aspire.
In that letter, Meloni says that Drake’s royalty account got nothing though his worldwide sales “are in excess of five million units.” He said Drake had received “inexcusably delayed, incomplete, confusing and misleading” statements listing what he was owed.
McMillan said that Drake, who gave Prince a Lamborghini for his birthday in October 2010, still has strong ties to his client. “Neither one of them has been paid,” he said.