R&B singer R. Kelly yesterday (Nov. 1) filed a $75 million breach-of-contract suit against rapper Jay-Z, accusing him and his associates of threats and violence that turned their joint tour into a “nightmare.”
The suit was brought in state Supreme Court in Manhattan following a tumultuous performance on Friday at Madison Square Garden, during which Kelly abruptly left the stage after telling the audience he saw two men in the crowd brandishing guns.
Kelly said that a short time later, a member of Jay-Z’s entourage blasted him and three of his bodyguards in the face with pepper spray backstage. Meanwhile, a security sweep of the concert hall failed to find any weapons and the sold-out show resumed without problems as Jay-Z performed with guest stars Usher and Mary J. Blige.
Jay-Z, whose real name is Shawn Carter, issued a statement through his record label yesterday saying it was Kelly who created a “dangerous situation” by claiming to have seen guns being waved in the audience. The statement said it was “the equivalent of screaming ‘fire’ in a crowded theater.”
The promoter of the 40-city-plus Best of Both Worlds tour, which began Sept. 29, canceled the remainder of the tour on Saturday after Jay-Z said he was unwilling to perform with Kelly again, according to Kelly spokesperson Allan Mayer.
On Saturday, Jay-Z returned to the Garden to perform without Kelly and has continued to perform on his own.
In his lawsuit, Kelly said Friday night’s incident marked the latest example of how Jay-Z and his associates turned what had been an “historic and highly anticipated tour … into a nightmare” that was “motivated by spite and jealousy.”
He said the rapper and his supporters “engaged in conduct intentionally, designed to exclude R. Kelly from the tour, including threats and acts of violence.” The suit seeks $15 million in compensatory damages and at least $60 million in punitive damages.
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