Sunday, October 31, 2004

Jay-Z/R. Kelly Conflict

So Jay-Z decided that The Black Album would not truly be his final album. Only a few days after his second album with R. Kelly called “Unfinished Business” came out, Jay-Z kicked R. Kelly off of their tour.

Putting my personal feelings about R. Kelly aside, I think that this decision will both hurt the sales of their new album, overall ticket sales, and R. Kelly will rightfully sue Jay-Z for what he would have earned from the tour.

The first thing to look at is the fact that their new album “Unfinished Business” was made to make up for the disappointing sales of “Best of Both Worlds”, which tanked due to R. Kelly’s legal troubles. R. Kelly supposedly was involved with a very young girl in a video which I have not seen. For unclear reasons the case against him is two years-old and it does not seem that prosecutors will be bringing him to court anytime soon. But at the time of that album, Jay-Z seemed to avoid being associated with R. Kelly. What happened after that was unprecedented. R. Kelly’s following album and compilations have brought him more popularity than he had ever had prior to 2002. The album “Unfinished Business” was supposed to bring back the Jay-Z/R. Kelly duo at their all time popularity.

Several days ago at their concert R. Kelly walked off stage due to his fear of two audience members who allegedly had pointed guns at him. While offstage, R. Kelly and two of his bodyguards were shot with pepper spray by a member of Jay-Z’s entourage. Then Jay-Z had kicked R. Kelly off of the concert tour.

Looking at this situation, I strongly believe that R. Kelly will have a legal case against Jay-Z that would allow him to collect the entire amount that he would have earned on the tour. If R. Kelly ran off the stage without having been threatened by guns in the audience, then he should not be paid for that one concert. But after a member of Jay-Z’s entourage assaulted R. Kelly with pepper spray, it is unfair of Jay-Z to fire R. Kelly from the tour. If in this case R. Kelly is considered to be employed by Jay-Z for the tour, this would be comparable to a boss firing an employee when one of the boss’ thugs had assaulted that employee. R. Kelly may have the possibility of two lawsuits against Jay-Z. R. Kelly would have one lawsuit for breaking the contract, a second lawsuit for being assaulted by an employee of Jay-Z, and a third lawsuit against that employee.

Putting the allegation against R. Kelly aside, the unfair treatment that he has received during and after the concert will allow him to easily collect financial damages against Jay-Z. What R. Kelly cannot sue for are the damages caused by the possible decline in sales of their new album. In this situation, however, Jay-Z will lose more money on the album than R. Kelly because it is being released under Jay-Z’s label Roc-A-Fella Records. As a businessman, Jay-Z is going to have to learn how to deal with subordinates, including R. Kelly and the thug who hurt him, or face huge financial losses.

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