Chingy Should Pay For Signing With Ludacris, Lawsuit Claims

St. Louis man who says he launched rapper's career seeks more than $250,000.

A man who says he discovered Chingy is suing the St. Louis rapper, claiming the platinum-selling artist breached a 1999 contract by signing with Ludacris' Disturbing Tha Peace imprint in 2002.

Ronald Gavin is seeking $250,000 in damages and at least $25,000 in related legal fees, The Associated Press, reports. The suit, which was filed last week in St. Louis County Court, also names Trak Starz, the production duo that helmed Chingy's 2003 debut LP Jackpot, which to date has sold close to 3 million copies.

The Trak Starz — Alonzo "Zo" Lee Jr. and Shamar "Sham" Daugherty — are often credited with discovering Chingy. Not so, Gavin's suit asserts.

Gavin's filing alleges that Chingy (born Howard Bailey) violated the terms of an exclusive contract he'd signed with Gavin's label, 49 Productions, Inc., seven years ago — back when Chingy was still an underground St. Louis MC who called himself H. Thugzy.

According to the contract, which is outlined in the suit, Gavin had "exclusive services for the production and recording" of Thugzy's material. Gavin claims that spent more than $100,000 over the course of three years, polishing Chingy's image and cultivating his budding rap career, the AP reports.

The suit further alleges that Gavin booked some of Chingy's earliest gigs, and met with local radio programmers to get the rapper's music on the air. Gavin said he produced one album for Chingy, and started work on a second before Chingy severed their relationship.

The filing claims that Trak Starz encouraged Chingy to sign a separate contract in 2002 and promised the rapper they'd hook him up with Ludacris, all the while knowing that Chingy had signed a binding agreement with Gavin. "It was a flagrant interference," said Gavin's attorney, Mark Goodman.