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Lil Wayne Sues Record Label for $51 Million

(CN) - With an eye toward leaving Cash Money Records, Lil Wayne claims in a federal complaint that the label did not pay him for his new record and failed to register his copyrights.

Lil Wayne filed the lawsuit in Manhattan under his legal name, Dwayne Michael Carter Jr., with his business, Young Money Entertainment LLC.

Cash Money, a New York City-based record label, has put out each and every one of Lil Wayne's official releases since 1998.

Starting with the 2010 Lil Wayne album "Rebirth," Carter's own imprint on Cash Money, called Young Money, has co-released the Florida-based rapper's records, as well as albums released by Drake and Nicki Minaj, among others.

Carter controls 49 percent of the imprint, with Cash Money taking the lion's share of the joint venture.

The rapper's Jan. 28 lawsuit insists that Carter be named joint copyright owner of "all the Young Money Label recordings."

He says Cash Money has failed to pay him for his forthcoming album, "Tha Carter V," and has not registered him or Young Money as an owner of the copyright.

"Although obligated to pay Carter $8 million dollars at the commencement of the recording of 'Tha Carter V' and $2 million dollars upon delivery of the album, Cash Money breached the 1998 recording agreement," the 19-page complaint states.

Claiming to have received only $2 million of the promised $10 million for this record, Carter says Cash Money's breach should release him from the recording contract.

"Tha Carter V" was originally due out last year, but was delayed multiple times, and is still "Coming Soon," according to Cash Money's website.

Carter claims that it has been over a year since Cash Money stopped providing proper monthly accountings to him regarding sales and royalties of records on the Youth Money label, including his own.

As for solo recordings of Drake released by the Young Money label, "Cash Money, since at least 2012, has failed to account to Young Money LLC on a monthly basis and has filed to pay Young Money LLC its share of net receipts," the complaint states.

"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," the complaint continues.

Carter says Cash Money also owes his business $200,000 in overhead payments, and has failed to maintain a $1 million escrow account to fund recordings as required by their agreement.

"Moreover, while required to obtain approval from Carter/Young Money LLC for marketing expenses greater than $300,000, Cash Money failed to do so, and claims millions of dollars in marketing expenses for the Young Money label," the complaint says.

Carter took issue as well with alleged mistakes Cash Money made in registering the copyright in Young Money recordings, leading to legal actions.

In sum, "Cash Money has jeopardized the ability of the Young Money label to properly and successfully conduct business and has improperly committed waste to the assets of the Young Money label," the complaint states.

Carter seeks $51 million in damages and an accounting for breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, unjust enrichment and conversion.

He is represented by Michael Kramer, an attorney with offices in Midtown East.

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