By Tracy Swartz Chicago Tribune
Chance the Rapper is suing his former manager, accusing him of exploiting the position to divert business opportunities to the manager’s own companies and tarnishing the Chicago rapper’s image by demanding kickbacks from vendors as the price of doing business with him.
The lawsuit, which was filed last week in Cook County court, comes two months after Pat Corcoran’s company sued the rapper’s businesses, saying he incurred more than $2.5 million of unreimbursed expenses supporting and promoting the Grammy-winning musician’s career as his manager.
The “Coloring Book” artist on Friday responded to Corcoran’s breach of contract lawsuit, seeking to dismiss various counts, in addition to filing his own complaint. The rapper, who was born Chancelor Bennett, is requesting more than $1 million for each of the three counts described in his own suit.
“Mr. Corcoran has been paid in full under his management services contract with Mr. Bennett. Yet he chose to file a groundless and insulting lawsuit that ignores his own improper self-dealing and incompetence,” Bennett’s attorneys said in a statement to the Tribune. “Mr. Bennett has moved to dismiss the majority of that meritless lawsuit, and filed his own lawsuit to remedy the harm that Mr. Corcoran caused through his breaches of duty. Mr. Bennett trusts the legal system to reveal the truth of the parties’ relationship in due course.”
In his November lawsuit, Corcoran said he and Bennett “redefined the music industry” together, but the 27-year-old rapper didn’t take his advice and dropped a “subpar” album in 2019. Corcoran said in his suit he was replaced by Bennett’s father, Ken, and younger brother, Taylor, after disappointing sales for “The Big Day” album and “underwhelming fan support” for the proposed tour.
Bennett painted a different picture of his success as an independent artist and philanthropist in his response to the lawsuit. He called Corcoran a “marginally competent business manager” at best and a “bullying and abrasive self-promoter” at worst.
“Rather than confront the substance of Pat the Manager’s claims, the defendants have elected to attack Mr. Corcoran’s character and rewrite history,” Corcoran said in a statement to the Tribune. “The aspersions cast by the Chance camp are offensive and do not reflect the reality of the relationship that Mr. Corcoran and Mr. Bennett developed over many years of collaboration.”
“The results of the pair’s fruitful teamwork — and the contrasting results when Mr. Corcoran was sidelined — are evident to the public. Mr. Corcoran is proud of the work he did on Mr. Bennett’s behalf, and is proud of the work he continues to perform for other talented artists. Mr. Corcoran looks forward to presenting his claims and airing out the defendants’ baseless accusations in court.”
In his suit, Bennett said he met Corcoran, a “hanger-on at the fringes of the rap music scene in Chicago,” at a music video shoot in 2012 as Bennett’s career was taking off. The South Side native rose to fame as a teenager with the release of his “10 Day” mixtape. Bennett and Corcoran reached oral agreement in 2013 that Corcoran would manage his music career in exchange for 15% of the net music profits, according to the suit.
Bennett said the relationship devolved years later when he learned Corcoran “effectively sabotaged” a deal that would have made him the celebrity “face” of the music distributor UnitedMasters, according to the suit. He gave examples in his suit of how Corcoran allegedly traded on his “good name” for his own benefit.
Corcoran “sought to extort kickbacks from merchandise vendors by threatening that Mr. Bennett’s businesses would not hire the vendor unless the vendor gave Mr. Corcoran an equity interest in the vendor or made a payment to Mr. Corcoran or one of his businesses,” the suit claims.
Bennett said the team behind the redevelopment of the long-shuttered Ramova Theater contacted Corcoran to offer Bennett equity interest. Corcoran “demanded that he receive an equity interest in the Ramova Theater” or Bennett would not do business with the historic Bridgeport theater. The theater “restructured its proposal so that Mr. Bennett and Mr. Corcoran would have equal equity shares,” according to the suit.
Bennett said Live Nation expressed interest in promoting a Chance the Rapper tour, and Corcoran used that opportunity to get Live Nation to buy wine from his No Fine Print company for concerts. “Mr. Bennett had no idea at the time he agreed to work with Live Nation that Mr. Corcoran had used his connection to Mr. Bennett to promote Mr. Corcoran’s separate business interests,” according to the suit.
Bennett accused Corcoran of inadequately supervising his merchandise business and botching the release of vinyl copies of his music. Bennett said it cost more than $1 million to issue refunds and give out free merchandise to disappointed fans. Bennett said Corcoran also didn’t create a marketing plan for “The Big Day” album, and instead capitalized on the buzz by announcing his entertainment company, Nice Work, had entered into a partnership with Warner Music.
“Mr. Bennett is known for being an independent artist, so to have his manager announce his affiliation with a major label three days after the release of Mr. Bennett’s debut album was profoundly off-message and created confusion among Mr. Bennett’s fan base as to whether he was abandoning his commitment to his independence,” according to the suit.
Bennett said he terminated Corcoran’s services in April 2020. He said his former manager has not transferred the domain registration of chanceraps.com or turned over his fan mailing list to him. He is asking for a jury trial.
Original article: chicagotribune.com