Def Jam Sued For $20 Million Dollars Over Chrisette Michele
Ellison filed the lawsuit in Manhattan Supreme Court, claiming that Island Def Jam Music Group, Shalik Berry (A&R) and Michele’s parents Lynette and Lemuel Payne engaged in unlawful business practices in an attempt to get the Grammy nominated singer out of her exclusive contracts with Four Kings.
The court battle ensued when Michele filed a lawsuit against Four Kings Productions Inc. in July of 2007, claiming that the CEO, Douglas "Biggs" Ellison, embezzled money from her Def Jam contract and harassed her.
While Michele eventually withdrew those allegations from her lawsuit, Ellison claims that his reputation was severely damaged when the accusations hit the press.
Four Kings entered into an agreement with Def Jam in September of 2005 and completed multiple songs, which appeared on Michele’s debut album, I AM.
"As soon as the artist’s mother saw that Chrisette was receiving money, all a direct result of the efforts of the production company under its contracts with the artist, Lynette Payne quit her job as a teacher and, in willful disregard of the artist’s contractual obligations to Four Kings, usurped management functions regarding her daughter’s newly found success, in an effort to keep the money in the family," Ellison claims in the lawsuit.
Ellison claims a meeting took place in Def Jam’s New York office, where he met with Berry, as well as the Paynes, who attempted to persuade him to release Michele from the contract.
"Mr. Payne knew about his wife’s attempts to take over management of their daughter’s suddenly burgeoning career, and hoped that his role in trying to take over management of the artist could be kept in the background," Ellison’s lawsuit states.
The lawsuit further claims that business decisions made by Def Jam, Berry and the Paynes prevented Four Kings from receiving income from the sales of Michele’s debut album I AM.
Ellison also counter sued Michele for breach of contract in a previously filed lawsuit.
Michele was recently nominated for a Grammy for Best R&B Vocal Performance for her song "If I Had My Way."
Her voice can also be heard on three tracks featured on the Grammy-nominated album Hip Hop Is Dead by Def Jam recording artist Nas, as well as Jay-Z’s single "Lost One" from his album Kingdom Come.
More recently Michele can be heard on the track "Slow Down" from Ghostface Killah’s CD critically acclaimed CD The Big Doe Rehab.
Representatives for Ellison stated that he hoped the litigation does not "sidetrack Ms. Michele from the long and successful career that Mr. Ellison predicts is certain to be ahead for the incredibly talented Ms. Michele."