An album that rapper Ja Rule never made for TVT Records earned the New York independent label $128 million in a verdict this week.
The Queens, New York, rapper signed with TVT ten years ago, and with the label's blessing, he moved to Island/Def Jam in 1998. For Def Jam, he released his debut, Venni Vetti Vecci, in 1998, followed by the breakthrough Rule 3:36 two years later. With the release of Pain Is Love in 2001 and The Last Temptation last year, Ja Rule became one of the most successful rappers of the past five years and the flagship artist on Murder Inc. Records, an Island/Def Jam imprint.
Though he severed ties with TVT years ago, Ja Rule and some collaborators tried to make an album for the label in 2001 based on recordings made prior to his signing with Def Jam, but the larger label blocked the album's release. A jury awarded TVT $24 million in compensatory damages, for various unrecoupable costs pertaining to the recording, as well as another $108 million in punitive damages. Attorneys for Def Jam admitted that the compensatory damages were owed, but urged against a punitive penalty.
Def Jam will appeal the verdict.