Jay Z Drops Extortion Charges Against Former Producer

Producer Chauncey Mahan requested $100,000 "storage fee" for master tapes and subsequently questioned by police

April 22, 2014 1:30 PM ET
Jay Z extortion
Jay Z performs in Manchester, England.
Shirlaine Forrest/Redferns via Getty Images

UPDATE (5/13): Jay Z has dropped his lawsuit against producer Chauncey Mahan, according to TMZ. The LAPD has closed their investigation.

Police recently took producer Chauncey Mahan into custody for allegedly attempting to extort $100,000 from Jay Z in exchange for master recordings containing some of the rapper's biggest hits. Mahan has been holding onto the tapes – which were made between 1998 and 2002 and provided the foundations for the 1999 album Vol. 3 . . . The Life and Times of S. Carter and its 2000 follow up, The Dynasty: Roc La Familia – since 2002. TMZ, which reported the news, values the recordings, which include hits like "Big Pimpin'" and "I Just Wanna Love U (Give It 2 Me)," at between $15 and $20 million. Mahan contacted Live Nation, which partnered with Jay Z to create Roc Nation in 2008, last week asking for $100,000 as a "storage fee" and eventually settled for $75,000. Police showed up to Mahan's storage space that same day and brought him in for questioning.

Where Does Jay-Z's 'Reasonable Doubt' Rank Among the 100 Best Debut Albums of All Time?

Mahan let police take custody of the tapes as he waits for a judge to determine who owns them. He was released the same day without arrest. TMZ's sources claim that Beverly Hills police, where Live Nation is headquartered, are also looking into the matter. In addition, Jay Z's representatives allegedly filed a grand larceny complaint with New York police.

The producer, in a separate post, told TMZ that Jay Z should be thanking him for holding onto the tapes. Had he not taken possession of them, he claims, they could have been lost or destroyed because, as TMZ reports, "Jay Z was an irresponsible pothead back in the day."

Mahan has credits on records by Terror Squad, Beanie Sigel, Funkmaster Flex, 112, LL Cool J and more. He also has a programming credit on Whitney Houston's cover of "I'm Every Woman" from The Bodyguard soundtrack.

The producer said that Jay Z's label Def Jam asked him to look after the tapes in 2002, as no one else was doing so. The rapper, he said, was reckless with his intellectual property. Over the past decade, Mahan said he notified Jay Z's people to tell them he had the masters, but that they shrugged him off. It wasn't until he asked for money, as he could no longer cover the storage costs himself, that they responded. Mahan alleged that perhaps the reason why Jay Z was up in arms about his request was because some of the masters sounded terrible.

Rapper and Jay Z collaborator Just Blaze, however, has offered up an alternative theory as to why the tapes sound bad, pointing his finger at Mahan in a series of tweets. "This guy ruined every tape transfer for the Dynasty album," he wrote (via AllHipHop.com). "The Dynasty intro sample flanges the entire time. . . Guess why!? Chauncey. We had to re-record 'Streets Is Talking' [vocals]. Why? [Because] Chauncey. If u listen to 'Get Your Mind Right' from Dynasty, you'll notice all the choruses after the first one fall in the wrong places. [Because] Chauncey."

Mahan has not worked with Jay Z often since The Dynasty – he has a credit on Jay Z's Linkin Park collaboration Collision Course – and Just Blaze said the reason for the separation was "we eventually got tired of it."

In December, Jay Z ranked his entire discography on his Life and Times website, giving his 1996 debut LP Reasonable Doubt the top spot, but not ranking Vol. 3 and Dynasty highly. (Out of 12 records, they came in at Numbers 10 and 11, respectively.) His 2006 comeback Kingdom Come was Number 12.

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