R. Kelly has filed a $75 million lawsuit against Jay-Z and his Marcy Projects production company, accusing the rapper of “sabotaging” the pair’s abruptly canceled Best of Both Worlds Tour. The suit seeks $15 million in compensatory damages and at least $60 million in punitive damages.
Originally planned as a forty-date outing, the tour was plagued by friction between the two artists from the onset, with cancellations and late start times. The tensions reached a climax Friday at New York’s Madison Square Garden when Kelly stopped his performance, claiming he thought he saw a pair of men open their coats in a manner that suggested they had guns. Security then searched the crowd, found no guns and gave the singer clearance to resume performing. Kelly was en route to the stage when he was allegedly attacked with “pepper spray or mace” by Tyran “Ty Ty” Smith, a member of Jay-Z’s entourage. Kelly was treated for his injuries at St. Vincent’s hospital and released.
Kelly blamed the late start in Chicago, a missed show in Cincinnati and an abrupt departure from the stage in St. Louis on the lighting, which the suit claims contractually was Jay-Z’s responsibility.
“During the first Chicago show, critical lighting cues were missed, forcing R. Kelly to stay up all night in order to completely reprogram the staging of the show himself,” reads the suit. “As a result, he got to the second Chicago show two and a half hours late, forcing cancellation of R. Kelly’s performance in Cincinnati on October 1 due to the logistical impossibility of traveling and setting up on time. The technical problems persisted, leading R. Kelly and his staff to suspect that Jay-Z’s lighting director was sabotaging R. Kelly’s performances. On October 23, R. Kelly had to leave the stage during a performance in St. Louis and directly instruct the lighting director after cues the director had performed competently during a two-hour rehearsal were inexplicably flubbed.” The suit also accuses Jay-Z of leaving an October 17th performance in Memphis early to attend Usher’s birthday party.
On Saturday, Kelly was kicked off the tour, and Jay-Z performed that night at the Garden with special guests including P. Diddy, Mariah Carey and Method Man. On Monday night, Jay-Z concluded the tour at the same venue with Pharrell Williams joining him onstage.
In scrapping the tour’s final fifteen dates yesterday, a statement from Jay-Z’s camp blamed Kelly’s “lack of professionalism and unpredictable behavior.”