So, a few months back, I blogged about Cardi B’s first big lawsuit with her former manager, Klenord “Shaft” Raphael who wassuing her for breach of contract, unjust enrichment and defamation, alleging damages in the amount of $10 million.
Welp, Cardi fired back. She alleges breach of contract for failure to appoint a business manager, failure to provide accounting and accurate payments, and breach of fiduciary duty in her countercomplaint. Her damages are speculative, as she needs proper accounting from Shaft to make her case, but she asserts a loss in the amount of at least $15 million.
Now, I love Cardi B and all! Boss mommy. True to herself. Hard worker. And she’s definitely come a mighty long way in her career in a relatively short period of time. And, I do believe she was taken advantage of here, in the same way that many artists are taken advantage of in this industry, but the fact of the matter is, it seems she signed a legally binding recording agreement, granting certain rights and compensation to Shaft in exchange for his role in her career. Annnnnnnd it probably seemed like a good idea at the time and she likely had no idea about the magnitude of the rights and their potential value that she was giving away when she signed with Shaft, but there must be some degree of personal accountability here. She always had the option to seek competent representation and chose not to. Often times people or entities who spend time investing in an artist’s career sign them to their own label in hopes to find distribution or a label deal with a major or large independent record label. It appears that is what occurred here. Her attorney’s arguments in defense against the label agreement are not very strong as far as a plain reading of the complaint is concerned, so the argument against the label agreement if it stood alone, would probably not be sufficient to uphold her claims.
Hoooooowever! The part that does make her claim more legitimate is that Shaft acts as manager for Cardi as well under another agreement. Under his role as manager, he does have a fiduciary duty to her which means an obligation to act in her best interest. Signing her to the KSR label deal where he essentially received half of all of her ownership rights and all the monetary gain that came along with that, was most certainly not in her best interest. While under certain management agreements, managers are permitted to sign their artists to their other entities so long as they are not double dipping (getting paid as a manager and other role), such agreements must be fair in order for the manager to uphold its fiduciary duty to its artists, and to make it truly official, an independent attorney should be assigned to each party involved to ensure everyone’s interests are examined and protected.
The defamation claim can still be proved by truth, hopefully, because Cardi’s explanation that it was just an expression of her experience does not diminish the claim. If only it were that simple.
I stand in my decision that the claim against Cardi regarding Quality Control is hard to prove and her counterclaim and response demonstrates the same, but as always, time will tell.
The thing that takes away from all of Cardi’s claims is that she is on the defense instead of the offense. Why wait to be sued before claiming you never received accountings and breach of contract? I mean, I get it. Lawsuits cost money. But when you’re talking about millions of dollars at stake and people and things that interfere with your career and earning potential, I would think, one would be a lot more proactive about things as opposed to reactive. Buuut, in Cardi B’s defense, one just never knows where someone will take it. And if she sincerely feels like her loss is worth $15 million and his is $10 million, she may have never thought he’d take it to this point because they’d both suffered losses. Either way, it’s always sad. When people you thought you were in it with, show you something different. Sometimes it’s business. Sometimes it’s personal. One thing’s for sure, Cardi’s still out here living her best life.
Lerae Funderburg, Esq. is the Managing Attorney at Funderburg Law, LLC, an Atlanta based entertainment law firm. Lerae has almost 10 years of experience in entertainment law in both music law and film law. As an entertainment lawyer and blogger, Lerae keeps her viewers and subscribers up to date with entertainment law news, especially in the areas of music, copyright law and trademark law. If you are local to Atlanta, call and set up a consultation! She would love to hear from you!