July 27, 2012 12:22pm PT by Eriq Gardner
Drake Management Team Accused of Putting 'Entire Drake Business in Jeopardy'
James "Jas" Prince, the man who is credited with discovering Drake by introducing him to Lil Wayne, claims in a new lawsuit that he's owed money for his efforts. Prince says that the managers that surround Drake have attempted to "loot" Drake's finances and have "put the entire Drake business in jeopardy."
Add one more lawsuit to the genre of disputes in the music industry where someone "discovers" an artist, gets cut out of the resulting success, then claims to have had an oral agreement. (See, for example, Rob Fusari v. Lady Gaga). In this dispute, Drake is said to also be unhappy with the defendants, having already put them on notice for withholding money. Drake supposedly wants to renegotiate his record agreement, which Prince is seeking to stop because it would threaten his own financial position.
Drake (born Aubrey Graham) is of course the entertainer who rose from being an actor on Degrassi: The Next Generation to being a Grammy award-nominated rapper and singer who has sold millions of records around the globe.
Prince says that around 2007/2008, when he introduced Drake to Lil Wayne and his crew, he came to an oral agreement with Cortez Bryant, the manager for Lil Wayne, to "develop and exploit Drake's entertainment services together and split profits therefrom accordingly."
Prince and his father, noted hip hop music executive James Prince Sr., were to consult and take the lead on business dealings with Lil Wayne's record labels, according to the complaint filed in New York Supreme Court.
Bryant then signed Drake to his roster of clients and to an exclusive recording contract with his company, Aspire, which then signed an agreement with Young Money Entertainment and Cash Money Records.
After realizing in July 2009 that he was about to be cut out, Prince says he negotiated a "Settlement Agreement & General Release Agreement," whereby he would receive a share of Aspire's profits, a majority share of ownership interest in Drake masters, and a share of Drake's gross compensation derived from the management agreement.
Now, Prince says that Aspire has failed to account to him and have "stymied" his ability to receive statements and payments by retaining the same business affairs lawyer who represents the record label.
As for the looting, Prince charges that the lawyer on behalf of Young Money Entertainment has "failed to pay Drake and by doing so, has failed to protect the main asset of the Settlement Agreements," allegedly running amok with the business. According to the lawsuit, Drake has put the defendants on formal written notice they are in breach of his recording agreement and is making a demand to renegotiate his contract.
Prince is suing Bryant, Aspire, and associated management firms for breach of the oral agreement, breach of the settlement agreement, breached of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing and their fiduciary duties. He's seeking an injunction that prevents the renegotiation of Drake's recording agreement that dilutes his profit share and wants the appointment of a receiver to oversee distribution of the profits. He's also demanding his owed money, of course.
Bryant hasn't responded to a request for comment.
Through his publicist, Drake declined comment.