Drake Profits Drag Birdman, Labels to Court

(CN) – Saying it’s been cheated of tens of millions of dollars, the label Aspire Music Group claims in court that Cash Money Records encroached on its exclusive rights to platinum-selling rapper Drake.

Born Aubrey Drake Graham, the Canadian-born rapper is not a party to the April 17 complaint in Manhattan Supreme Court. Famous for having “Started From the Bottom,” Drake got his start on CTV’s teen soap series “Degrassi: The Next Generation” but earned international recognition after he left the series to self-release his mixtapes.

Aspire says it signed Drake shortly thereafter in 2008 and made a deal the following year to have Cash Money Records produce Drake’s first six studio albums.

Drake’s first full-length studio record, “Thank Me Later,” debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 in 2010. “Take Care,” the rapper’s second studio album, enjoyed similar success, selling 631,000 copies in its first week.

He’s had four additional albums since then, all of which have been very successful.

But Aspire claims that Cash Money failed to provide monthly statements of Drake’s sales. When pressed, the numbers that the label produced allegedly included inflated deductions and duplicate deductions.

The complaint says Cash Money also failed to list Aspire’s partial-owner status when it registered copyrights for Drake’s master recordings.

Aspire says the final straw broke in 2013 when Young Money Entertainment signed Drake to an exclusive deal. The deal purportedly requires Young Money to indemnify Drake if Aspire sues him for breach of contract, plus Drake will take home “more than $10 million that should have been paid to Aspire, including at least $4 million in connection with albums that were previously produced pursuant to the Aspire/YME Agreement,” according to the complaint.

“In summary, defendants have brazenly engaged in a systematic and pervasive effort to cheat plaintiff out of its contractual entitlement to tens of millions of dollars in profits and royalties, and to its one-third ownership interest in the copyright to Drake’s first six albums,” the complaint says. “Plaintiff brings this action to right this egregious wrong.”

Aspire is represented by Marc Kasowitz of Kasowitz Benson Torres.

Birdman and Slim, the brothers behind Cash Money otherwise known as Bryan and Ronald Williams, are also listed as defendants to Aspire’s complaint. Though Cash Money’s imprint Young Money Entertainment is listed as a defendant as well, its founder Lil Wayne is not.

A representative for Cash Money Records declined over the phone to comment on the lawsuit.

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