Grammy Award-winning singer Brandy is seeking at least $270,000 in a lawsuit that’s been refiled against Chameleon Entertainment and its president/CEO Breyon Prescott. She is also seeking a court declaration that she is contractually freed from Chameleon. Described in its introduction as “Kesha Redux,” but without the rape allegation, the complaint was filed July 18 in Supreme Court of the State of New York.
“I’m as free as a bird in my mind,” Brandy tells Billboard. “But on paper, it looks like I’m a slave. And I’m not a slave. The kind of deal I’m signed to should be criminal to any artist.” The singer is represented by Robert Meloni of the New York law firm Meloni & McCaffrey.
The 24-page complaint alleges that although Brandy was ready to honor the terms of her Chameleon contract, the defendants have not let the singer record or release any music for the past three years and have “effectively drained the lifeblood from Plaintiff’s recording career.” The suit further stipulates the defendants demanded that she relinquish rights to income from her concerts, acting roles, endorsements and other income-generating ventures in order to secure a 360 deal with Epic Records, where Prescott currently works as head of urban A&R — which Brandy has refused to do.
Brandy, who signed with Chameleon Entertainment in 2011, originally sued the label in Los Angeles Superior Court in March of this year. That lawsuit was dismissed earlier this month because Brandy’s recording contract with Chameleon contained a forum selection clause that specified all claims, disputes or agreements would be resolved through New York state or federal courts.
Brandy’s first Chameleon album, Two Eleven, was released in 2012 under the label’s then-distribution deal with RCA Records. Also as part of its deal with Brandy, Chameleon had the option to release four more albums by the singer. According to the complaint, Chameleon’s distribution pact with RCA ended after RCA decided not to exercise its option for another album in early 2013.
The suit further states that although Brandy was prepared to honor the contract’s terms, Chameleon refused to honor its obligation to fund the singer’s “second album as it was required to do (with or without a distribution deal in place).” The complaint also contends that preventing the singer from recording and releasing any music is “designed to effectively freeze Plaintiff’s career as an artist and force her to capitulate to its [Chameleon’s] onerous demands.”
“Although the contract expired by its terms when Chameleon committed this breach, the business reality is that no label will work with an artist so long as a label maintains this unlawful stranglehold over the artist,” Meloni, Brandy’s attorney, tells Billboard. “This is tantamount to a type of involuntary servitude. So, we need a court to declare Brandy is freed. This is not about publicity at all. It is simply about a great artist wanting to make great music, and being prevented from doing so by a label that not only failed to meet its obligations, but still professes to own her and then, when called to task in this lawsuit, publicly defamed her and insists on denying her that freedom.”
Addressing these allegations, a spokesperson for Prescott, appointed to his Epic executive post in February, issued this statement to Billboard: “Chameleon and CEO Breyon Prescott are disappointed that Brandy has resorted to conjuring fictitious accusations instead of constructively discussing her contractual concerns or status with a company and the colleague that she once stated as her biggest supporter. Her reckless words and accusations that she entered into a contract that is comparable to slavery, given the current state of the country, are irresponsible. Mr. Prescott wishes nothing but the best for Brandy and continues to state that her talent overall should overshadow any present day disputes.” Prescott is represented by Gary Adelman of the legal firm Adelman Matz in New York.
Brandy did release a new song, “Beggin and Pleadin’,” in January after the debut of her new BET series Zoe Ever After. Issued on the singer’s own label, Slayana Records, the costs of the recording and its accompanying music video were allegedly borne completely by the singer since Chameleon allegedly refused to contribute any funds.
According to the summons attached to the complaint, Chameleon Entertainment and Prescott have 20 days to appear and address the allegations.