Known for his frequent travails with both the criminal and civil courts, Wayne's latest imbroglio stems from the documentary "The Carter," which debuted at Sundance in 2009 to much critical acclaim. Focused on the rapper's notoriously prolific recording and drug habits, it immediately drew consternation from Wayne's camp.
Whereas Wayne once cut a swath as rap's Jim Morrison -- an addled and slurred Dionysian figure -- he has cleaned up his act in recent years. Reportedly sober, a coherence creeps into his speech that was formerly laced with weird rambles. Whereas he once played self-indulgent and ham-fisted guitar solos at his shows, he now espouses his love of God and his fans.
Presumably, this desire to project a more family-friendly image is part of the reason why his attorneys filed a $50-million lawsuit to halt the documentary made by Digerati Holdings LLC. Chagrined by the film's "objectionable content," Wayne's team is also suing over breach of contract, invasion of privacy, fraud, misrepresentation and unfair business practices.
The opening salvo of the suit filed by Lavely & Singer utilizes a level of comic invective rarely seen outside of a Lil Wayne song:
Corporate greed and fraud reached its zenith in 2008. Bernard Madoff stole $56 billion dollars from unsuspecting victims. A prominent attorney pretended to be someone else and made off with $380 million dollars. Apparently not content to sit on the sidelines and see this brazen hustlers make off with all the money, Digerati Holdings, LLC decided it wanted to participate in its own massive con game.
Unsurprisingly, Digerati filed a countersuit, alleging that Wayne was in breach of contract for failing to perform agreed-upon interviews, and for reneging on a deal to provide the filmmakers with video material. The countersuit also alleges that Wayne and his camp attempted to stop the spread of the film by attempting to sway Viacom and MTV Networks from distributing it.
Last November, Wayne was released from Rikers Island prison after serving eight months on a weapon possession charge. In 2008, he was sued by Urband & Lazar Music Publishing for allegedly using a sample in his mixtape hit "I Feel Like Dying" without permission. The suit caused him, in turn, to sue the song's producer Jim Jonsin, and was later settled out of court.
The suit over "The Carter" rages on, with both sides expected to reconvene later this year in court, where a jury will ultimately decide the case's fate.
-- Jeff Weiss
Photo: Lil Wayne makes an appearance at the 2009 Grammy Awards at Staples Center. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times