A guide to Megan Thee Stallion's legal battle with her record label
The "Hot Girl Summer" rapper has successfully filed a temporary restraining order against her old label in order to release new music.
On Sunday, rapper Megan Thee Stallion told followers on Instagram Live that her first record label was allegedly preventing her from releasing new music.
Before she signed a deal last year to be managed by Jay-Z's company Roc Nation, the breakout star had a contract with the Houston-based company 1501 Certified Entertainment, which is run by former pro athlete and four-time MLB All-Star Carl Crawford. Megan says she initially felt comfortable approaching 1501 to renegotiate a deal, given their history, but that when she did, "everything went left."
The rapper noted, "I'm not a greedy person, I'm not a person that likes confrontation," but 1501 has been "shady" and "greedy" about the situation. Megan ended with an address to them through the camera, saying, "You're mad because I don't want to roll over and bow down like a little bitch, and you don't want to renegotiate my contract."
By Monday, Megan was granted a temporary restraining order (TRO) against 1501 Entertainment and Crawford, clearing the way for her to release new songs. Her complaint alleges that 1501 was instructing her record distributors "not to release or distribute any of her new music," and that the halted release would "have a devastating impact" on her career. In granting the TRO, not only did the judge direct 1501 not to block Megan's music, but also warned the label and its employees not to make any retaliatory posts, threaten people into not working with Megan, nor “intentionally falsify, alter, spoil, hide, transfer, or otherwise destroy any documents, evidence or recordings related to [Megan] in any way."
The young rapper is further petitioning for the judge to declare her recording contract with 1501 Entertainment “unconscionable.” Megan highlights 1501 getting 60 percent of her recording income, and third parties like producers, mixers, and featured artists being paid out of her 40 percent share, as egregious examples of how her deal falls below industry standard. She says the deal also gives 1501 exclusive oversight of her touring and live performances, with the label making 30 percent of Megan's touring money, and 30 percent of her merchandise. The rapper especially takes issue with the performance money, stating in her legal complaint that the label misrepresented themselves as a full-service operation, and has failed to help her with certain legal protections like registering songs with the copyright office and finalizing legal agreements with third parties.
Crawford publicly responded to the legal complaint in an interview with Billboard, saying "Nothing is true that she said. Me being greedy and taking money from her, that's crazy. I never tried to take nothing from her. The only thing we ever did was give, give, give."
He further claims that after Megan signed to Roc Nation in September 2019, she refrained from paying 1501 any of the proceeds from her merchandise and touring in an apparent attempt to strong-arm his label into renegotiating her contract. (Megan has not yet responded to this allegation.)
Crawford defended the contract they gave Megan saying, "Let's talk about your contract. It's a great contract for a first-timer... What contract gives parts of their masters and 40 percent royalties and all that kind of stuff? Ask Jay-Z to pull one of his artists' first contracts, and let's compare it to what Megan got."
However, when asked about certain allegations like Megan having to use her 40 percent to pay third parties, Crawford replied, "I don't think that's true," before saying he wasn't involved with working out Megan's initial deal with the 1501 lawyer.
Megan Thee Stallion continues to push forward with plans to release new music this Friday, having posted a tracklist to a project called Suga.
Meanwhile, Crawford and 1501 called for an emergency court hearing, arguing in documents obtained by TMZ that Megan's contract stipulates that disputes between her and the label must be handled in arbitration, but their emergency motion to dissolve the TRO was denied.
After Wednesday's court decision, Crawford's colleague J. Prince, CEO of Rap-A-Lot Records, posted twice on Instagram in response, accusing Megan of lying in court documents, despite the court order calling for him not to post any retaliatory remarks. Megan's initial complaint posited that Prince engaged in threats and intimidation tactics against her and her team after she signed to Roc Nation.
In response to Prince's post, the rapper shared a photo of herself on Instagram with a caption saying that the 1501 team is only deflecting from the core issue of her wanting to put music out, and that "Carl [Crawford] should speak for himself."
Richard Busch, Megan's legal counsel, had no further comment on the matter outside of Megan's Instagram post on Thursday, besides noting, "We are obviously pleased with the court decision and are thrilled that the world will be able to hear Megan’s new music on March 6th."
The next step of the legal dispute will happen March 13 when the Harris County, Tex., court will determine whether or not to extend or dissolve Megan's TRO against 1501.
We’ve reached out to 1501 for more information and will update it when we know more.
This post has been updated to reflect the reactions of both parties to the March 4th court order keeping the TRO in place.