Rapper Kanye West filed a lawsuit yesterday (Aug. 29) to stop release of masters he recorded as a Chicago teenager in 1995. The suit filed in the U.S. District Court in Chicago claims that Eric “E-Smoove” Miller and his Focus Music Group used a forged recording agreement to try landing distribution deals for nine unreleased tracks written and performed by West.
According to the complaint, shortly after West landed 10 Grammy nominations earlier this year for his debut album, “The College Dropout,” Miller approached John Galt Entertainment in Nashville and others to distribute the tracks, which he helped West record. He asked Galt for a $450,000 advance.
Galt’s representative contacted West’s lawyer to verify West’s permission in the recording agreement to release the tracks. West claims he never had any written or oral contract with Miller and refused to okay release of the music.
After West’s attorney received a copy of the purported recording agreement, the complaint says, an e-mail from Miller said that the agreement “was just a dummy up we were using to get the distributors to even talk to us. It was never supposed to leave the Broker’s hands but one of the distributors must have gotten anxious while we were researching the numbers…”
After several communications between various representatives for the parties, the complaint alleges, a lawyer for Miller claimed that the defendants did not need permission to release the masters.
West is suing for violation of his publicity, privacy and trademark rights among other claims. He asks the court to void the fraudulent recording agreement and award $100,000 in general damages and at least $200,000 in punitive damages.
Miller’s attorney, Mark Levinsohn with Epstein, Levinsohn, Bodine, Hurwitz & Weinstein in New York, could not be reached for comment.