OAKLAND, Calif. -- Claiming the label refuses to release his new Earthquake album or pay him for it, rapper/producer E-A-Ski filed a lawsuit in California Superior Court on Monday against DreamWorks Records, seeking up to $30 million.
"This won't be tolerated," said the 27-year-old E-A-Ski, who has produced songs for such artists as Ice Cube, Jayo Felony and Naughty By Nature. "I want this record to come out more than anybody. I can't just walk away and slander my name and my credibility."
The suit alleges the record company did not pay him money due under a production/marketing contract it signed with his company, Infared Music Group. He added that DreamWorks officials have said they will not release his Earthquake album.
Reached at his Oakland, Calif., home last week, E-A-Ski (a.k.a. Shon Adams) said he was filing suit because talks with the label had reached a standstill. He also said fans were beginning to doubt they would ever get their hands on Earthquake.
The suit charges DreamWorks with breach of written record contract, breach of implied contract of good faith and fair dealing, breach of written overhead contract and fraud.
DreamWorks publicist Roy Hamm said that the label could not comment on litigation that it has not seen. He confirmed that Earthquake is not currently on DreamWorks' release schedule.
The lawsuit alleges that on May 29, DreamWorks signed IMG to a "lucrative record contract after it heard a completed album [Earthquake] that Adams had recorded at Relativity Entertainment" and bought out E-A-Ski's contract with Relativity for $125,000.
As stated in the suit, "DreamWorks offered substantially superior financial terms to those provided by Relativity, assured plaintiffs that it would release the album and promote it more quickly and aggressively then Relativity would or could, and IMG agreed to sign the record contract with DreamWorks."
In addition to the record contract, the suit alleges that DreamWorks signed IMG to a producer/overhead contract Aug. 18, in which DreamWorks agreed to pay IMG $12,000 per month for 12 months for marketing and promotion services for Earthquake.
The heart of the suit involves allegations that DreamWorks executive Jheryl Busby called a meeting with E-A-Ski in September and told him that DreamWorks would not be releasing Earthquake because DJs had not responded favorably to it.
According to the suit, Busby further claimed that "DreamWorks had no obligation to release the album or to pay IMG the balance of the advance due upon delivery because IMG had not delivered a commercially or technically viable album."
Calls to Busby were not returned.
The suit claims that when DreamWorks bought the Relativity record and contract, the company never indicated that it thought E-A-Ski did not make a good-faith effort to deliver a commercially viable album. The suit also quotes the rapper's contract with DreamWorks as stating that all future E-A-Ski albums will be "substantially the same quality, style and caliber of the materials already delivered to DreamWorks."
According to E-A-Ski and the suit, the change of heart actually was born of the label's concern that he was signed for too much money. "[DreamWorks' lawyers] called my lawyer and said that [Busby] was taking flack because of my deal," E-A-Ski said.
"It was a monster deal and now they're saying that they gave me too much," E-A-Ski continued. "You can't just walk away from that. You owe me money."
Earthquake, which features appearances by Ice Cube, Jayo Felony and Montell Jordan, may end up on another label, though nothing is confirmed.
"I don't want people thinking I'm crying wolf," E-A-Ski explained. "I want this album to come out. I've been marinating these beats since 1995 and I want them to be heard."
In the meantime, E-A-Ski has begun work on the follow-up LP, Aftershock. He's unsure at this point if it will come out on its own or as a companion disc to Earthquake, he said. He added that he is certain it will take the hip-hop world by storm.
"I was thinking of calling it Armageddon," he said. "It's even doper than Earthquake, but this time, I'm letting everybody have it. A lot of artists rap about how they have this and they drink that, but they're scared to get real. We're getting exploited out here, and I'm going to use this album to speak about all that."
E-A-Ski, meanwhile, wants more than anything that Earthquake see the light of day before its sound becomes dated.
"I do worry about that," E-A-Ski said, "which is why I'm speaking on it now. I get hundreds of e-mail[s] from people asking me when Aftershock is coming out, and I want to be able to tell them when."