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Cardi B Sued by Former Manager for $10 Million

Klenord “Shaft” Raphael had represented the rapper since 2015.

UPDATED: Cardi B is being sued by former manager Klenord “Shaft” Raphael, whom she left late last month for Solid Foundation, the management wing of Quality Control, which is headed by Kevin “Coach K” Lee and Pierre “Pee” Thomas, Variety has learned. According to the claim filed on April 26, Raphael and his label KSR and management company WorldStar Marketing Group “demand judgement against Cardi B in an amount to be determined at trial, but not less than $10,000,000.” Cardi (Belcalis Almanzar), Lee, Thomas and publicist/stylist Patientce Foster are all named in the complaint.

According to a statement from Shaft’s rep, “Since discovering Cardi B in 2015, Shaft has played an integral role in developing her music career and public image. While he is proud of their successful collaborations as she evolved from Instagram influencer to music megastar, Shaft is disappointed by her actions to freeze him out of her career, which are detailed in the complaint. Shaft is confident that his lawsuit will validate his conduct and substantiate his legal claims.” He claims that he orchestrated Cardi B’s relationship with VH1’s “Love & Hip Hop: New York,” where she was a cast member for two seasons,  while developing her music career and connecting her with songwriters and producers and helping her to secure label and publishing deals.

Specifically, claims include:

*Breach of contract, unjust enrichment, quantum meruit, declaratory judgment, and defamation against Cardi;

*That Cardi “has not only declared the agreements to be ‘void and unenforceable,’ but she has also repeatedly defamed Shaft, falsely communicating to her fiancé Kiara Kendrell Cephus p/k/a Offset, members of her entourage, and the public that ‘Shaft is robbing me'”;

*”Upon information and belief, Offset is responsible for steering Cardi B to QC to be managed by Thomas and Lee in all of her entertainment endeavors”;

*That “With actual knowledge of Cardi B’s exclusive management agreement with WorldStar, Defendants Foster, QC, Lee, and Thomas, without justification, intentionally interfered with that agreement, thereby depriving WorldStar of the substantial income, benefits, and advantages it was entitled to receive under that agreement.”

Among the more colorful claims made in the complaint are quotes from a pair of texts: “On December 16, 2017, [Cardi] texted Shaft: ‘I’m not f[*]cking with you nomore you dead ass doing me [] Grimmey.’ After that communication, Cardi B began withdrawing from Shaft, contacting him less and less. Two days later, Offset contacted Shaft, confirming that Cardi B was spreading the lie that Shaft had robbed her: ‘[U] better stop play acting like u don’t know u taking her sh[*]t from her u a snake. U can’t hide from me N[****] and u not bout to play my WIFE.'”

Variety broke the news that Cardi was moving over to Solid Foundation from Shaft and KSR Group on March 27, where she joins rappers Migos — one of whom, Offset, is her fiancé and the father their baby, whose due date is in July — and Lil Yachty, among many others.

Reps for Cardi B and Solid Foundation did not immediately respond to Variety’s request for comment, however late Friday Paul LiCalsi, partner at Robins Kaplan LLP and litigation counsel to the rapper, said: “After a full investigation of the facts, we will be responding to these allegations in detail in court. But even on its face, Shaft’s claim raises a huge question. For a hefty commission, a manager promises to carefully counsel and guide an artist in her or his career. In exchange, the law imposes a high fiduciary duty on the manager to always act in the artist’s best interest, not engage in conflicts of interest, not overreach, and not self-deal. The glaring question here is: how does Shaft justify signing on as Cardi B’s manager through WorldStar for a 20 percent commission, and then a year later sign her up through his other company for a deal that takes 50 percent of her music royalties from Atlantic Records, 50 percent of her music copyrights, and 25 percent of her other earnings? How does that comport with his fiduciary duty as her manager?”

It’s been an eventful month for the Bronx-born rapper, who released her debut album, “Invasion of Privacy,” on April 6; was the musical guest on “Saturday Night Live” the following day, where she confirmed rumors of her pregnancy (when a camera pulled back to reveal her belly); and performed at the Coachella festival the next two weekends. Thursday morning she announced the cancellation of several summer tour dates due to her pregnancy, but still plans to tour with Bruno Mars starting in September.

While 2017’s “Bodak Yellow” was her first hit, Cardi has been in the spotlight for several years, thanks to her role on the VH1 reality TV series “Love & Hip Hop: New York,” where she made her debut as a cast member in 2015 during season six. She released her first single “Cheap Ass Weave” during her first year on the show and an appearance on reggae superstar Shaggy’s single “Boom Boom.” She left the show last December and signed with Atlantic early in 2017, and a publishing deal with Sony/ATV in October.

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