R. Kelly Sues Jay-Z After Tour Cut Short

By | November 2, 2004 at 12:00 AM

New York – The breach of contract suit suggests Jay-Z was perturbed because Kelly was the higher-paid performer. The animosity led to deliberate lighting flubs and other technical problems, violence against Kelly, and threats to force the promoter to drop him, court papers say. The promoter is also named as a defendant.

Kelly, whose best-known hit is “I Believe I Can Fly,” accused one of Jay-Z’s associates of blasting him with pepper spray early Saturday at Madison Square Garden. He was treated at a hospital and released.

A short time later, the tour’s promoter, Atlanta Worldwide Touring, fired Kelly. He and Jay-Z were in the middle of a 40-city tour that had been plagued by canceled shows and reports the two refused to speak to each other.

The tour was supposed to be “the perfect marriage of hip-hop and R&B,” said Kelly’s lawyer, Edward Hayes. “Instead, it’s going to be a terrible divorce.”

Atlanta Worldwide said Sunday that the tour has been canceled. Jay-Z’s publicist said he was unsure whether the rapper would try to fill the remaining dates as a solo act.

A statement from Island Def Jam Records, which Jay-Z is slated to take over, blamed Kelly’s “lack of professionalism and unpredictable behavior” for cancellation of the tour.

Kelly’s court papers suggested that the tension between the two musicians was the result of Kelly’s larger profit split: 60 percent of the first $15 million earned to Jay-Z’s 40 percent.

Kelly’s lawsuit says Jay-Z, whose real name is Shawn Carter, and his associates turned the tour into a “nightmare” by engaging “in a pattern of wrongful conduct” to get the promoter to exclude Kelly.

Kelly’s lawsuit asks for $15 million in compensatory damages and $60 million in punitive damages.

On Friday night, court papers say, Kelly was performing when he noticed two men in the audience open their coats and display dark objects that he thought could have been guns.

Kelly twice left the stage, once telling the audience that he was being “menaced.” After police arrived and found nothing, Kelly returned to the stage, after which a Jay-Z associate pepper-sprayed Kelly and several members of his entourage, the suit says.

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