Wiz Khalifa has filed a lawsuit against his former manager in an effort to terminate the 360 deal the then-up-and-coming Pittsburgh rapper signed in 2005. The suit, which accuses Rostrum Records and its founder Benjy Grinberg of profiting off “virtually every aspect of [Khalifa’s] professional life” in the decade since the contract was signed, seeks $1 million plus punitive damages and legal fees.
The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on Tuesday and obtained by Rolling Stone, alleges that Grinberg steered Khalifa toward business opportunities that benefitted the manager more than the artist. This includes, according to the suit, Khalifa’s one album-record deal with Warner Music that included five options for additional albums. Khalifa contends that his Warner deal expired with the release of his sixth LP Khalifa in February; the rapper ended Grinberg’s tenure as personal manager in March 2014.
“During the period that Grinberg and Rostrum acted as plaintiff’s personal mangers [sic], they induced plaintiff to enter into a series of transactions in which Grinberg and Rostrum placed their own interests over those of plaintiff and failed to disclose to plaintiff material information necessary to obtain his informed consent for such transactions,” the suit alleges.
“An artist’s most trusted advisor is his or her personal manager. Generally, nothing good comes out when the manager decides to go into business against his artist. Unfortunately, that is the case here,” Khalifa’s lawyer Alex Weingarten told Variety.
In a statement, Grinberg said, “I was very disappointed and surprised by this news. To witness an artist turn on you after supporting them for a number of years is very disheartening, This is an egregious lawsuit filled with inaccuracies, yet unfortunately people sometimes resort to these practices as a way of conducting business.”
Grinberg, who also helped foster the career of Mac Miller, signed Khalifa to a 360 contract when the rapper was just 16. A year later, Khalifa released his debut LP Show and Prove through Rostrum. The album’s credits lists Grinberg as the album’s executive producer; according to Khalifa’s suit, this was “commercial exploitation” in an effort to collect “an unknown amount of revenues and other ill-gotten gains” from the release.
Grinberg received similar executive producer credits on 2009’s Deal or No Deal, 2011’s Rolling Papers and 2012’s O.N.I.F.C. As part of the 360 deal, Khalifa’s suit states that Rostrum Records would have a share of Khalifa’s songwriting, touring and merchandise profits.
Khalifa’s suit also argues that the rapper can terminate that 360 agreement under the California Labor Code’s seven-year rule.