2020 Grammys

Rapper Ras Kass Sues Priority, Capitol, EMI

Suit claims breach of contract and unfair competition.

Rapper Ras Kass (real name John Austin) has sued Priority Records, Capitol Records, EMI Music and two Priority executives, claiming breach of contract, unfair competition, restraint of trade and other abuses.

The suit, filed Monday in California Superior Court in L.A., seeks a rescission of the musician's contract, and compensatory and punitive damages to be determined.

According to the suit, in 1995, Austin -- who was then a 22-year-old Patchwerk Records artist -- signed a contract with Priority requiring delivery of one album, with an option for five more albums.

The action claims that Priority failed to market and promote the albums "Soul on Ice" (1996) and "Rassassination" (1998). It also alleges that Priority VP of A&R Wendy Goldstein and Priority/Capitol executive VP Andrew Shack maliciously interfered with Austin's career.

The suit further alleges that the releases of Austin's third and fourth albums were sabotaged, and that Priority interfered with a proposed group project for Sony that would have featured Austin, Xzibit and Saafir.

According to the suit, owing to "fraudulent accounting practices," Austin has received only $100,000 during the nine years of his contractual agreement -- an average of approximately $11,000 per year.

The 32-page filing broadly excoriates standard record-industry practices, and calls Austin's contract "unconscionable." It also claims that recording artists do not receive adequate protection under section 2855 of the California Labor Code, which prohibits the enforcement of personal-service contracts after seven years.

At deadline, a Capitol spokeswoman had not returned a call seeking comment.

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