R. Kelly Sues Jay-Z, Tour Promoter

Billed as the Best of Both Worlds, the ill-fated co-headlining tour by Jay-Z and R. Kelly ended up with two worlds colliding.

Billed as the Best of Both Worlds, the ill-fated co-headlining tour by Jay-Z and R. Kelly ended up with two worlds colliding.

The tour's implosion -- at least as a co-headlining attraction -- puts a damper on what could have been one of the year's top-grossing R&B music outings, with a gross potential of about $30 million.

The first of three sold-out performances (Oct. 29-Nov. 1) at Madison Square Garden in New York saw the tour seriously run aground. Not surprisingly, the Jay-Z and R. Kelly camps disagree on what happened.

At the opening-night performance, Kelly abruptly left the stage after telling the audience he saw two men in the crowd with guns.

Kelly says that backstage a short time later, a member of Jay-Z's entourage sprayed him and three of his bodyguards in the face with pepper spray.

A security sweep of the arena failed to find any weapons, and the show resumed without problems as Jay-Z performed with guests Usher and Mary J. Blige.

Jay-Z issued a statement through his record label Island Def Jam, saying it was Kelly who created a "dangerous situation" by claiming to have seen guns in the audience. The statement said it was "the equivalent of screaming 'fire' in a crowded theater."

On Nov. 1, Kelly's Bass Productions filed a lawsuit against Best of Both Worlds tour promoter Atlanta Worldwide Touring, Jay-Z and his Marcy Projects Productions.

Edward Hayes, attorney for Kelly, describes the tour as "a commercial success." Of the dispute, he says, "There were frictions over the lighting, which was run by Jay-Z and which Kelly felt was inadequate and used to favor Jay-Z against [Kelly]."

The suit, filed in New York Supreme Court in Manhattan, claims that the artists' companies entered separate contracts with Atlanta for the "historic and highly anticipated tour [that] quickly turned into a nightmare."

It alleges that the concert lighting for Jay-Z, which was his responsibility, "was consistent with his status as a headliner" but was "lackluster" for R. Kelly. After the first night's performance in Chicago, "critical lighting cues were missed, forcing R. Kelly to stay up all night in order to completely reprogram the staging of the show himself," resulting in his late arrival for the second Chicago show and forcing cancellation of Kelly's performance in Cincinnati.

A source close to Jay-Z's camp challenges these allegations, telling ELW that Kelly failed to attend rehearsals before the first show, requiring the lighting technicians to "wing it." The next day, Kelly was in his bus for the second show, but it took the promoter more than two hours to coax him out to perform, the source claims.

The suit describes Kelly's version of the Oct. 30 MSG incident. It alleges that the following day, Atlanta told Kelly's representatives that the promoter was canceling the tour as conceived, that the remaining performances would be for Jay-Z & Friends, that Jay-Z insisted that Kelly be prevented from performing the remainder of the tour and that MSG was banning Kelly from the premises.

The action seeks an accounting of tour revenue and $15 million from Atlanta for breach of the touring contract. It also seeks $75 million from Jay-Z and his company for interfering with the contract between Bass and Atlanta-$15 million to compensate for its losses plus $60 million in punitive damages.

Jay-Z's attorney, Michael Guido, declined comment on the suit, saying that they are assembling their litigation team.