MANHATTAN (CN) – Saying his vision took Cardi B “from the strip club to the recording studio,” former manager Shaft hit the hip-hop chart-topper with a $10 million federal complaint Thursday.
Shaft, whose real name is Klenord Raphael, sued the 25-year-old Bronx native under real name as well, Belcalis Almanzar.
Represented by Rockefeller Center attorney Jonathan Davis, Shaft brought his suit alongside Worldstar Marketing Group and KSR Group, of which he is the sole shareholder and member, respectively.
“Shaft conceived, arranged and orchestrated Cardi B’s rise to become the biggest music sensation on the planet,” the complaint states. “Owing to his vision and drive, Cardi B can now bring her talents to the world and obtain a level of success few artists ever achieve.
“But as is sometimes the case with artists who obtain a measurable level of success, Cardi B has reneged on valid and binding agreements in an effort to cause Plaintiffs to forfeit their substantial rights and benefits in her entertainment career and to enrich herself and others who played no role in developing her career.”
Shaft credits himself with pivotal artist development benchmarks including landing Cardi B’s reality-television role on VH1’s “Love & Hip Hop” and securing her a major label record deal with Atlantic Records.
Once television exposure multiplied Cardi B’s social-media following, she received multiple award nominations for her breakout song “Bodak Yellow (Money Moves),” the complaint explains.
Shaft says the deal Cardi B signed with WorldStar Management to be her “exclusive personal manager” promised 20 percent of her gross income.
The agreement specifies an initial one-year period, “beginning March 3, 2015, and four ‘irrevocable’ options to extend the initial term for ‘up to four (4) consecutive additional periods of one (1) year each.’”
Shaft says publicist Patientce Foster, a confidante of Cardi B’s who is also named as a co-defendant, “falsely told Cardi B that Shaft was ‘robbing’ Cardi B and cheating her out of money by making side deals at her expense.”
The complaint also claims that Cardi B was lured to sign with Atlanta-based Quality Control Management by her fiance, Kiara Kendrell Cephus, who performs under the handle Offset in the group Migos, who are also managed by Quality Control.
Quality Control’s sole members, Kevin “Coach K” Lee and Pierre “Pee” Thomas are also named as co-defendants.
Variety broke the news last month that Cardi B had signed to Quality Control Management.
In addition to claiming breach of contract, Shaft says he was defamed by Cardi B in a video posted on March 27, 2018, on Instagram Live, where she currently has 22.9 million followers. “There’s a lot of people that I had to cutoff, a lot of friends, a lot of management, a lot of people that I had to cutoff because … one thing I notice … people don’t give a f[*]ck about you,” she said.
The complaint points to online comments and replies to the Instagram Live post as evidence that the post “has been reasonably understood by members of the public to mean that Shaft and his businesses were stealing from her and otherwise not serving her best interests.”
A version of the Instagram Live post was later uploaded to YouTube with the title “Cardi B Goes Off On Manager Who She Caught Stealing From Her.”
“Cardi B’s defamatory statements will cause lasting reputational damage to Shaft and his businesses,” the complaint concludes.
Denying any robbing or cheating, Shaft and his labels seek at least $10 million in damages.
Cardi B’s debut record “Invasion of Privacy” was released on April 6, 2018, by Atlantic Records.
The video for Cardi B’s 2017 hit “Bodak Yellow,” which has more than 539 million YouTube views, begins with the opening credit “KSR Group Presents.”
The rapper recently canceled a string of summer tour dates and performances, citing physical difficulties stemming from her pregnancy. She is due in July.
Cardi B’s representatives did not immediately respond to request for comment.