LOS ANGELES (CN) – Rapper Wiz Khalifa, seeking $1 million, claims a former manager and label locked him into an exclusive seven-year contract that ran beyond its terms.
Cameron Thomaz aka Wiz Khalifa sued Benjamin Grinberg and Rostrum Records in Los Angeles Superior Court on Monday.
Grinberg founded Rostrum in 2002, and acts as its principal owner and chief executive. Grinberg and Khalifa met in 2004, Khalifa claims, while he attended high school in Pittsburgh, Pa.
“Although plaintiff was only 16 years of age when they met, Grinberg has explained in media reports that he took an immediate interest in plaintiff because he had the maturity and lyricism of someone who has been rapping for decades,” the lawsuit states.
Grinberg told Khalifa that he “would have the best of both worlds, a relatively powerful, well-connected manager who would provide plaintiff with the time and personal attention that only a small company like Rostrum could provide,” Khalifa claims. Grinberg was formerly an assistant to nonparty L.A. Reid, the chief executive of nonparty Arista Records, according to the lawsuit.
Khalifa verbally agreed for Grinberg and Rostrum to serve as his personal managers in 2004. He claims he notified Grinberg in March 2014 of the termination of the managerial services, “effective immediately.”
Grinberg did not obtain the rapper’s consent for transactions, including a so-called “360 Agreement” in 2005 that stretched far beyond a seven-year statute, Khalifa claims.
According to the lawsuit, the agreement was to include a 12-month “initial period” that centered on the completion and delivery of master recordings, plus up to five option periods that included recording commitments of at least one album.
“The 360 Agreement further provided, however, that in no event shall plaintiff be required to perform for, or deliver, more than an aggregate of five full-length studio albums in fulfillment of his recording commitment under the contract,” the 24-page complaint states.
Amendments followed waiving Khalifa’s right to disaffirm the agreement upon turning 18 years old, and extending the initial period of the agreement to December 2007 or the date that Rostrum entered into a distribution agreement, the rapper claims.
Khalifa’s first studio album, “Show and Prove,” was released in 2006. Rostrum subsequently released “Deal or No Deal” in 2009, “Rolling Papers” in 2011, “O.N.I.F.C.” in 2012, “Blacc Hollywood” in 2014, and “Khalifa” in 2016.
“On May 27, 2016, plaintiff gave notice pursuant to California Labor Code Section 2855, subdivision (b)(1), specifying that from and after May 31, 2016, plaintiff will no longer render service under the 360 Agreement by reason of subdivision (a) of such statute,” the rapper’s lawsuit states.
Khalifa, a self-styled “award-winning songwriter, performer and recording artist,” claims the parties’ roles should have been reversed.
“Needless to say that 11 years of plaintiff’s rendering of personal services for his managers, when it should have always been the other way around, is more than enough,” the lawsuit adds.
Khalifa, Grinberg and Rostrum could not be immediately reached for comment on Wednesday.
The rapper seeks $1 million plus punitive damages for fraud and breach of fiduciary duty. He is represented by Alex Weingarten with Venable LLP.
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