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Noisey

Why Is Lil Wayne Suing Cash Money?

Will Birdman pay Lil Wayne what he's owed? Maybe he won't, but then again... maybe he will.

by Nevona Friedman
Feb 18 2015, 9:20pm


Photo by Ryan Muir

UPDATE on February 19, 2015: Lil Wayne has broken silence on the current status of Tha Carter V, telling Rolling Stone's Simon Vozick-Levinson: "It's super-done. Cake baked, icing on top, name on top, candles lit. I would have released it yesterday if I could. But it's a dead subject right now. It's a jewel in the safe. It's that stash-house money." In reference to the tweet he sent in December claiming to be a "prisoner," he jokes: "I love being a prisoner in some pussy. That's what I meant." Then explains he's been thinking about the situation, but "it's nothing that a good blunt can't cure."

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In a bold move, Lil Wayne recently filed a lawsuit against Cash Money Records, the label run by his longtime friend and business partner Birdman. The lawsuit asks for $51 million and revealed some surprising elements of the dynamic between Wayne & Birdman. Following Wayne filing suit, fellow Young Money cohorts Tyga and Jas Prince have both spoken out about Cash Money missing payments, with Tyga going to the media and Jas Prince filing documents of his own alleging shady practices. All of this is happening extremely fast, and you might be wondering exactly what the hell is going on in the mighty YMCMB empire. We're here to explain.

WHO REALLY OWNS YOUNG MONEY?

What you need to know:

Lil Wayne owns 49 percent of Young Money, his imprint label under Cash Money. Cash Money owns the remaining (majority) 51 percent.

What the lawsuit says:

Wayne alleges that in 2013, Cash Money started to mess up payments. They were supposed to be providing accountings every month, paying an overhead of $200k per quarter to Young Money, and maintain an escrow account for artist advances - all of which Wayne alleges wasn’t happening.

Cash Money was also supposed to get Wayne’s approval for marketing expenses greater than $300k. According to Wayne, Cash Money hasn’t done this - and has claimed millions of dollars in marketing for Young Money.

Cash Money was supposed to register the records that came out on Young Money as both Cash Money & Young Money LLC—which Wayne is saying they haven’t done.

Wayne also says that Cash Money refused to accept artists submitted by him to join the Young Money roster.

Continued below

WHAT DOES DRAKE HAVE TO DO WITH THIS?

What you need to know:

When Young Money signed Drake, both labels (Young Money and Cash Money) set up the “2009 Drake Letter Agreement,” which stipulated that “Young Money LLC [Lil Wayne]’s share of the net profits earned in connection with any solo recordings released by Drake would not be cross collateralized against any advances or other payments paid to Young Money LLC [Wayne]”.

What this means is when Lil Wayne gets paid an advance from the label, he has to recoup it—he has to earn back that same amount of money to the label through selling records before he can start to see his share of the money. By uncrossing Drake, Wayne can start to see money off Drake before having to pay back his own advances. Drake’s earnings are not crossed with Wayne’s debts.

This “2009 Drake Letter Agreement” also set up that Wayne was to see ⅓ of Young Money’s net profits off Drake.

What the lawsuit says:

Wayne’s (allegedly) not seeing those profits. In one of the starkest statements in the suit, Wayne’s lawyers say “Cash Money has failed to provide a single accounting in respect of the exploitation of the Drake recordings, despite Drake being one of the bestselling recording artists in recent years.”

HOW MUCH MONEY WAS WAYNE SUPPOSED TO MAKE?

What you need to know:

In 2012, Cash Money agreed to pay Wayne an advance of $10 million for each upcoming solo album. Of that, $8 million was to be paid upon commencement of recording (when recording began) and $2 million was to be paid upon delivery of the album to Cash Money (when Wayne turned it in).

What the lawsuit says:

In December 2014, Wayne says he delivered Tha Carter V. Wayne’s alleging that instead of the $8 million upfront and $2 million on delivery, he got only $2 million over the course of his time recording, leaving Cash Money to owe him $8 million.

In addition, Cash Money was supposed to register Wayne as a co-owner of I Am Not a Human Being II, something Wayne is alleging they never did.

On top of all this, Wayne has asked to audit Cash Money to get to the bottom of everything, and they refused.

SO WHERE’S THE $51 MILLION COMING FROM?

$8 million for Tha Carter V advances

$5 million for failing to register copyright as a joint between Young Money and Cash Money, failing to pay profits, and refusing an audit.

$13 million for Unjust Enrichment - taking Wayne’s share of the profits.

$25 million for Anticipatory Breach of Contract - essentially, the lawsuit alleges that Cash Money has proven that they won’t pay Wayne in the future

… which comes out $51 million in demands from the suit. In addition, the suit is asking to require Cash Money to account to Young Money and name Wayne the joint copyright holder of the records he’s entitled to.

WHAT ABOUT TYGA?

What you need to know:

Ah yes, the eternal question: What about Tyga? Though not named in the suit, Tyga has spoken out about his own problems with Cash Money in the past. In a 2013 interview with NY radio station Power 105.1’s The Breakfast Club, Tyga said he had never gotten a check from Cash Money. Revisiting the issue with The Breakfast Club’s Charlamagne on February 17th of this year, Tyga said he still has not seen any checks, despite having, according to him, “all these singles that go gold.”

What it could mean:

Without knowing the specifics of Tyga’s deal with Young Money/Cash Money, it’s hard to say whether or not everything he’s alleging adds up. While entirely possible that Cash Money is missing payments, it’s also a possible scenario that Tyga’s albums haven’t recouped, so he’s not seeing profits from the label. He mentions in the 2013 interview that he received a signing bonus from the label, as well as acknowledging that they pay for his videos. Without knowing the details with certainty, it’s possible that given Tyga’s declining album sales and Cash Money fronting money for marketing, Tyga didn’t recoup.

What happens now:

It seems that as of now, Tyga isn’t taking legal recourse, but is instead trying to move on. He told The Breakfast Club’s Angela Yee that his upcoming album, executive produced by Kanye West, was supposed to drop in January 2015, but didn’t because Cash Money wouldn’t let him out of his deal. Tyga went on to say that this would probably be “the first album he ever got paid off of”, leading us to believe that he isn’t planning to push it through the Young Money / Cash Money channels.

WHAT’S CASH MONEY’S SIDE OF THE STORY?

So far, Cash Money has been mum about the issues pertaining to Wayne, Drake, and Tyga. Birdman has shown his regular support on social media for Drake’s new album, and though there was some speculation that Drake released If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late as a dig at Birdman, no firm evidence of this has come to light.

WHEN WILL THIS GET RESOLVED?

Unfortunately, unless either party spills, it’s likely we won’t know the outcome of this until the lawsuit is resolved. Now that the lawyers are involved, it’s unlikely either side will be willing to speak candidly.

SO WHO’S RIGHT?

It’s hard to say without knowing both sides of the story and without seeing all of Wayne’s agreements with Cash Money. Wayne’s lawyers do a great job of laying out the facts in the lawsuit, but until Cash Money is given a chance to respond, we don’t really know enough to paint a full picture.

It will certainly be interesting to see how this plays out for Wayne and Birdman both, especially with Drake and Tyga seemingly caught in the middle. All we can do now is wait to see how the lawsuit shakes out, but it doesn’t seem like any relationship (even between these two) could survive this one.

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