R. Kelly Sues Jay-Z For $75 Million, Claims Sabotage
Suit also targets Hova’s business partners, promoters of failed tour.
By Shaheem Reid, with additional reporting by Rahman Dukes
You can now officially dub it the War of the Worlds. On Monday evening (November 1), lawyers for R. Kelly filed a $75 million lawsuit against Jay-Z, Hova’s various business associates working on the failed Best of Both Worlds tour, and the tour’s promoter.
Kelly, who alleges in the suit that Jay worked with the tour’s original lighting director to sabotage his lighting during certain concert dates, is seeking $15 million in lost income form the tour being cancelled and $60 million in punitive damages. The lawsuit was filed in New York State Supreme Court.
“The historic and highly anticipated tour quickly turned into a nightmare as Jay-Z and his associates, motivated by spite and jealousy, not only failed to perform their obligations under the relevant agreements but also engaged in conduct intentionally designed to exclude R. Kelly from the tour, including threats and acts of violence,” the lawsuit reads. “As a result of Jay-Z’s conduct, R. Kelly has been excluded from certain past tour performances and will be excluded from future performances as well. Such conduct amounts to breach of contract by the concert promoter and tortuous interference with that contract by Jay-Z and his business entity.”
A spokesperson for Jay had no comment on the lawsuit.
The “acts of violence” apparently include an alleged attack Friday night at Madison Square Garden. Kelly has accused longtime Jay-Z associate Tyran “Ty Ty” Smith of hitting him in the face with pepper spray when he tried to return to the stage. He had left the stage earlier in the evening after telling the audience that two men in the audience were waving guns at him.
“[Ty Ty was] marching up and down the hallway, clearly trying to provoke things,” recalled Kelly’s publicist Allan Mayer, who said he witnessed the incident. “He’s yelling, ‘Rob’s a pu—, he’s a f—-t.’ We shouldn’t have to put up with this. … To have a performer about to go back onstage and have some guy mace him, that’s crazy.”
A spokesperson for Jay-Z said Jay and his entire crew were onstage at the time of the alleged attack and none of them saw the incident, therefore, there was no comment from his camp. Reportedly, no police report was filed concerning the pepper-spray incident.
Kelly returned to Chicago on Monday after a weekend in which he and his Best of Both Worlds partner publicly ended their much-ballyhooed allegiance. The tour has been officially cancelled by its promoter, and for the last two nights, the shows — one in New York, one in New Jersey — have been billed “Jay-Z and Friends.” There has been no word yet if Hova and his “friends” will continue the tour, which is scheduled to run through November 28, after their last New York date on Monday.
“The only reason why the tour is not continuing is because of Jay-Z,” Mayer said, adding that despite the shocking developments at Friday’s show Kelly was still willing to perform with Jay on Saturday. Mayer said his camp was informed on Saturday afternoon that Jay was not willing to perform with Kelly, and that the Chi-town crooner would not even be admitted to the Garden if he showed up.
Friday night on New York radio station Hot 97, Jay told personality Angie Martinez that Kelly would not “get to touch the stage” on Saturday, but that he would be willing to perform for the New York audience by himself.
In a statement released Monday, Jay cited Kelly’s behavior as the reason for the tour being cancelled. “R. Kelly’s lack of professionalism and unpredictable behavior has prevented the Best of Both Worlds tour from continuing,” the statement read. “Mr. Kelly has cancelled three performances with less than 24 hours’ notice and has delayed multiple shows by hours. On Friday, October 29, at a sold-out Madison Square Garden show, Mr. Kelly made a statement from the stage claiming members of the audience were waving guns. Jay-Z sees that statement as the equivalent of screaming ‘Fire’ in a crowded theater and was unable to continue with someone whose actions could potentially create a dangerous situation.”
The statement also portrayed Kelly as having a history of unreliability. “Based on his actions on the tour to this point, the statement from R. Kelly’s publicist [released on Saturday] suggesting that Robert was ‘ready, willing and able’ to continue the tour lacks any credibility. In Chicago and Baltimore, R. Kelly was not ‘ready.’ In Cincinnati, Milwaukee and Hartford, R. Kelly was not ‘willing.’ In St. Louis and New York, R. Kelly was not ‘able.’ ”
Kelly claims he broke out early in St. Louis to attend Usher’s birthday party.
“He’s angry, disappointed and frustrated,” Mayer said about Kelly. “For Rob, it’s about two things: the music and the fans. He’s in a whole different place than Jay-Z. It’s not about posturing. It’s about creating the music and playing it for the fans.”
Meanwhile, Kelly has other legal matters to contend with. He’s due back in court at the end of the week for a hearing concerning the child-pornography charges against him. Mayer said his client wants to go on his own tour soon to make up for the Best of Both Worlds debacle, however, it takes longer for Kelly to plan a tour than most artists because he must obtain permission from the court to travel.
“Rob is a professional,” Mayer said. “[Regardless of] whatever he thinks of Jay-Z personally, he respects him as a musician. That’s why he can’t understand what this all about. Right now, he’s just trying to get his head right about what happened this weekend. We’re going to try and take the next couple of days and figure out what’s going to happen.”
Kelly’s absence seems to have lit a fire under Jay-Z. For the past two nights, he’s paraded out more stars than a Jerry Lewis telethon.
Saturday night at Madison Square Garden — where fliers passed out before the show alerted fans that Kelly would not be performing and that refunds were available — the reunited Bad Boy family took the stage like it was Puff Daddy and the Family’s No Way Out tour again. P. Diddy and Mase made the floor shake with songs like “Been Around the World” and “Mo Money, Mo Problems,” and the crowd erupted when Black Rob came out for “Whoa!”
Other guests rocking their own short sets were Busta Rhymes, who brought out Mariah Carey, and Mary J. Blige, who brought out Method Man. Meth then brought out Redman, who was carrying his son on his shoulders. T.I., Doug E. Fresh and Lil Vicious, Memphis Bleek, State Property and Foxy Brown also performed.
On Sunday at the Continental Airlines Arena in New Jersey, Jay paraded out more buddies: T.I., Mary J., Busta, Diddy, Doug E. Fresh and Foxy Brown returned, and Kanye West, Talib Kweli, Q-Tip, Slick Rick and Pharrell Williams also performed.
Jay-Z promises more A-list guests for his Monday night show at Madison Square Garden.
Tags: bad boy, Best of Both Worlds, Busta Rhymes, concert, Doug E. Fresh, Foxy Brown, hiphop, Jay-Z, kanye west, lawsuit, Lil Vicious, Mariah Carey, Mary J. Blige, mase, Memphis Bleek, Method Man, P. Diddy, pharrell williams, Q-Tip, R. Kelly, Redman, Slick Rick, State Property, T.I., Talib Kweli, tour