Lil Wayne’s former manager and legal advisor has sued the rapper and his various Young Money companies for at least $20 million. In a lawsuit that provides a pretty good summary of Wayne’s various legal wranglings with his label Cash Money and its business partner Universal Music, the rapper is accused on reneging on an oral agreement to pay Ron Sweeney management commissions and a share of any legal settlement pay-outs and the sale of Young Money master rights.
Sweeney says he began providing legal and management advice to Wayne in 2005, initially fixing a terrible contract that the rapper had signed with Cash Money. He then continued to provide services through to 2018.
Wayne also had two childhood friends involved in his business affairs – Cortez Bryant as manager and Mack Maine as an advisor and later President of the Young Money label. However, Sweeney says that those friends had little business or music industry experience, so Wayne relied on him for that support in relation to both the rapper’s own career and the growing Young Money empire.
So much so, Sweeney adds in his lawsuit, one his roles was managing the managers. And “acting as Lil Wayne’s overall protector, protecting him from his record company and a vast amount of parasites and others who were trying to take advantage of Lil Wayne. [And] on more than one occasion, plaintiffs essentially had to protect Lil Wayne from Lil Wayne himself”.
The lawsuit then runs through the big dispute that occurred between Wayne and Cash Money in relation to the rapper’s own music and the Young Money label, which operated as an imprint of Cash Money. That dispute ultimately resulted in litigation against Cash Money, Universal Music and US collecting society SoundExchange, all of which was eventually settled in 2018.
Sweeney says that by 2014, the various issues with Cash Money meant that although Wayne was “asset rich”, he was rather short – somewhat ironically – of cash money. Which meant there wasn’t really money to pay Sweeney or his company. Nevertheless, he says, he continued to work for the rapper, including extensive unpaid work managing the Cash Money dispute and supporting the law firm which pursued the litigation on Wayne’s behalf.
In recognition of that, Wayne agreed to pay Sweeney 10% of any legal settlements stemming from that litigation and 10% from any future sale of master rights owned by the Young Money label, in addition to the 10% management commission that had already been agreed.
Separate to Wayne’s litigation, the aforementioned Bryant also sued Cash Money claiming that his company Aspire Music Group was owed significant payments for its role in bringing Young Money’s most successful signing Drake to the label, and therefore to Cash Money and Universal.
Sweeney’s lawsuit says that Bryant’s lawsuit created a conflict of interest, because Bryant was now Wayne’s manager but was also suing Wayne’s label. To that end, in May 2018 Wayne asked Sweeney to terminate Bryant’s management services, which he did. Sweeney adds that he then took over responsibility for the management tasks previously performed by Bryant, increasing his management commission to 17% in return.
Pretty much as soon as that had happened, Sweeney alleges, Bryant and Maine “conspired together to drive a wedge between Lil Wayne and plaintiffs by, among other things, making false and misleading statements to Lil Wayne about plaintiffs”.
That conspiracy was seemingly successful, with Wayne terminating his relationship with Sweeney and his company in September 2018. Since then, Sweeney goes on, Wayne and his team have refused to make good on the various payments that had been agreed.
That includes Sweeney’s management commissions, his cut of the various legal settlements (some of which, but by no means all, has been paid), and his cut of an alleged sale earlier this year of the Young Money masters to Universal in a $100 million+ deal.
With all that in mind, Sweeney accuses Wayne and the Young Money companies of breach of oral contract, fraudulent inducement and unjust enrichment, reckoning that damages of at least $20 million are due.
Wayne is yet to respond to Sweeney’s lawsuit. Though to be fair he’s been busy dealing with other legal problems in recent days, having admitted to being in possession of a firearm despite being banned from possessing such a thing because of a felony conviction more than a decade ago.
A gold-plated handgun was found in the rapper’s luggage after his private plane was searched when he arrived in Miami a year ago. At the time he said the gun had been a Father’s Day gift.
Having pleaded guilty to possessing the firearm he will now be sentenced on 28 Jan. He could get ten years jail time for the crime, although it seems likely his sentence won’t be that severe. He is currently free on a $250,000 bail.