WILMINGTON, Del. (CN) – A Wu Tang Clan-affiliated rapper says he lost business and his Wu Tang branding after another affiliate with a similar birth name cut off his penis and jumped off a balcony.
Marques Andre Johnson, who performs as Andre Roxx, filed a lawsuit in Delaware Federal Court on Wednesday, accusing TMZ and a dozen other news outlets of libel and false light invasion of privacy for falsely identifying him as the rapper Andre Johnson, who severed his own penis before allegedly attempting suicide.
Johnson says he teamed up with non-founding Wu Tang Clan member Killah Priest in 2012, joining the regional affiliate Midwest Killa Beez group. Johnson, as Andre Roxx, toured with Wu Tang members Killah Priest, Cappadonna and Eternal, earning $2,000 to $4,500 per live appearance, according to his complaint.
In April 2014, a different Andre Johnson, who performs as Christ Bearer in the group Northstar and a different regional Wu Tang Clan and Killah Priest-affiliated group called West Coast Killa Beez, cut off his own penis and jumped out of a second story window during a party in North Hollywood, court records show.
Gossip news site TMZ picked up the story April 16, 2014, wrongly identifying Andre Johnson aka Andre Roxx by name and in a picture as the supposedly suicidal self-mutilator, rather than Christ Bearer, Johnson claims.
Although TMZ later corrected their story, they did not issue a retraction and many other online news outlets ran with TMZ’s incorrect version, repeating the false information initially published by TMZ, according to Wednesday’s lawsuit.
Besides TMZ and its parent company Warner Bros., which Johnson blames for initially attributing the grotesque story to Andre Roxx, the lawsuit also names TTT West Coast, Barstool Sports, BET, Real Times Media, Daily News, Cheri Media, Interactive One, Gannet, CBS Interactive, Vicacom, Townsquare Media and iHeartMedia as defendants. Johnson claims libel and false light invasion of privacy for their alleged roles in republishing the misinformation.
Following the widespread unchecked erroneous publicity, the Wu Tang Clan renounced their affiliation with Johnson in a blog entry declaring, “This motherfucker ain’t got shit to do with the Wu-Tang brand!” The post allegedly included a picture of Andre Roxx, not Christ Bearer. Johnson says losing his endorsement from the Wu Tang Clan was a blow to his professional brand.
The lawsuit says that Killah Priest acknowledged to Johnson that the story was not true, but “he could not put plaintiff on the ticket with him or any other Wu Tang musicians because others in the public didn’t know the story was wrong.
Johnson was in prison at the time the news broke, and claims he saw the story on a local news channel as well as on a CBS-affiliated radio station.
Johnson claims he was harassed and threatened by inmates about the story so severely that he was forced into protective custody, staying in isolation 23 hours per day.
Upon his release from prison in June 2015, Johnson says his attempts at damage control and rebuilding his music career were cut short by the fallout of Christ Bearer’s severed penis and TMZ’s misidentification.
Promoters considered Johnson too “risky” to book and the Internet echo chamber was filled with comments focused on the false story of Johnson cutting off his penis, according to the complaint.
His lawsuit alleges he has to wear sunglasses in public as disguise because he is frequently misidentified by strangers as the rapper who cut off his genitals and attempted suicide.
Johnson is represented by Ronald Drescher in Wilmington, Del. He seeks punitive damages.
Representatives of the defendants were contacted Wednesday but have not yet returned requests for comments.
- Chobani Class Action
- Backlash at IRS for Tea Party Case Stonewalling