There's no telling when Welcome to the 305, an album featuring some of the earliest studio recordings by Miami rapper Pitbull, will surface -- if ever.
On August 26, Pit's current label home, the New York-based TVT Records, and Miami's Slip 'n' Slide, which wants to distribute those 14 pre-M.I.A.M.I. tracks, will face off in a Miami courtroom to figure out who is the rightful owner of the material.
Slip 'n' Slide's Jullian Boothe, who first signed Pitbull to Luther Campbell's Luke Records in 2001 before inking him to a production deal years later, claims to own the 305 masters and the right to release the material, which also features Trina, Lost Tribe, Deuce Poppi and others.
He had every intention to do so this past May, with Slip 'n' Slide on board for the disc's distribution, and he claims more than 100,000 advance orders were lined up. But then TVT obtained a cease-and-desist order, scaring off buyers, he said. Slip 'n' Slide filed a lawsuit against TVT, who responded with a countersuit claiming it was the proper owner of all of Pit's cuts, past and present.
According to the Miami Herald, TVT's suit claims that Pitbull's recording contract assigned TVT "all rights to masters and recordings containing [his] performances recorded prior to the date of the agreement." Boothe said Pit wasn't authorized to do that, and that the crunktastic home of Lil Jon knows this.
"He can't sign over something that doesn't belong to him," said Boothe, who produced Welcome to the 305. "As far as the recordings he did with me, he signed them over directly to me. They belong to me. We're hoping we can come to a settlement so we won't have to go to court. [TVT] knows I own the masters and have the right to put it out and the right to use Pit's name to put it out. Hopefully we can end this peacefully and move on."
TVT's suit further accuses Slip 'n' Slide of trying to ride its proverbial coattails. The label claims that by issuing the unreleased material now, Slip 'n' Slide is attempting to cash in on the millions of dollars TVT, which plans to release Pitbull's second disc next month, has invested in promoting Pitbull.
"TVT has invested substantial time, effort and resources to develop [Pitbull] as an artist and to develop, market and release the M.I.A.M.I. album on a worldwide basis," the Herald quotes TVT President Steven Gottlieb as stating in court papers; Slip 'n' Slide, he maintains, is trying "to take undue credit for breaking [Pitbull] into the rap business."
Not so, said Boothe. In fact, all he's trying to do is provide Pitbull's hardcore fans with a taste of the Miami rapper's cooking from before he was called up to the big leagues. He also defended the quality of the recording, which TVT characterized as "warmed-over" -- it's TVT's contention that if the material sees the light of day, it could hurt Pitbull's career. TVT blasted Slip 'n' Slide further, suggesting that the label was trying to confuse Pit's fans into purchasing the album by promoting it as a new release.
"First of all, this isn't going to hurt his career at all," Boothe said. "We clearly state that this is old material -- we're just giving people ... we're showing them what he did prior to him coming out. There's two Game albums right now. Is it hurting Game?"
Boothe hopes a settlement can be reached before August 26 but said he's prepared to take the label on in court if need be. A statement from TVT regarding the Pit situation reads, in part, that Pitbull "never approved this release, and with good reasons. The record contains six tracks where his vocals account for less than 45 seconds. In addition, his vocals are not on any of the four skits or the disc's bonus track. And there's merely three tracks where his vocals account for more than half the song."