R. Kelly and Jay-Z have been suing one another ever since the dissolution of the duo’s Best of Both Worlds tour more than a year ago.
First Kelly filed a $75 million lawsuit against Jay, claiming Hova conspired with the tour’s lighting director to sabotage the lighting during his sets. The suit further accused Jay of using intimidation and threats of violence to exclude R. Kelly from the trek (see “R. Kelly Sues Jay-Z For $75 Million, Claims Sabotage” ). Then Z slapped R with a countersuit (see “Jay-Z Countersues R. Kelly Over What He Calls Their ‘Nightmarish Odyssey’ “ ), saying it was “R. Kelly’s financial woes, insecurities, and unsafe and unpredictable behavior” that resulted in his amputation from Best of Both Worlds.
Jay’s suit was tossed out of court earlier this year; Kelly’s suit is still very much alive and well. The ongoing legal fracas between the embattled R&B crooner and Def Jam’s president and CEO picked up a little steam last week, when lawyers for Kelly filed a second suit — one that his attorney, Greg Clarick, characterized as “overlapping.”
According to Clarick, the claims listed in last week’s filing with the Manhattan Supreme Court simply restate those that were detailed in the original suit.
“It was done for legal reasons, to make sure that we had protected our right to bring a couple of claims that, theoretically, someone could have said weren’t properly brought in the first case,” he explained. “We think they were actually properly brought in the first case, we just did it to cross the T’s and dot the I’s.”
The stark difference between the first suit and last week’s action is, this time around, Jay’s longtime friend Tyran “Ty Ty” Smith was also served with the suit. Smith was charged with third-degree assault last year (see “Bench Warrant Issued For Jay-Z Associate In Pepper-Spray Incident” ) in connection with the October 29 pepper-spray attack of R. Kelly during the trek’s stop at Madison Square Garden. Kelly had halted that evening’s concert twice, claiming he’d seen men in the audience pointing guns at him. Smith’s accused of spraying Kelly as he attempted to return to the stage. Smith is awaiting trial for the assault count.
“We needed to make sure that the claim was properly protected,” Clarick said. Last week’s suit reiterates earlier claims that Jay-Z rewarded Smith for carrying out the attack with a cushy executive post at Def Jam. Smith serves as the vice president of the label’s A&R department and was the lead rep for Rihanna’s Music of the Sun debut. According to court documents, Smith was “acting within the scope and course of his employment by Jay-Z” during the MSG attack.
“It is true that, following this incident, Jay-Z was hired to run Def Jam Records, and we believe and understand that he hired Mr. Smith to be an executive at Def Jam Records,” said Clarick. “The claim for the attack is no different than what was made in the first lawsuit.”