Iggy Azalea isn’t just a Rot Wilier on the track, but the new face of rap is pretty vicious in the court room as well. Azalea, born Amethyst Kelly, has filed a complaint against her ex-flame, little-known rapper Jafe Wine for violating her copyright, trademark, name, likeness and conversion of property stolen off of her computer.
The complaint is in response to a press release by Jefe Wine’s production company saying he had secured the rights to release an EP by Azalea. The EP, Inizio, would include music that Azalea worked on while she was with Jafe, but never released and she claims he stole from her. Some of the songs, such as “Red Bottom” have already been leaked.
It all began in 2008, when Azalea was living in Houston working on her early music career. She met Jafe, also known as Maurice Williams, and the two began dating quickly. The couple later moved to Atlanta, and it was at that time when Jafe allegedly took Azalea’s personal computer and downloaded all of her recordings, including the songs at the center of the lawsuit, “Take My Picture,” “It Ain’t Tricking,” “Supernova,” and others. The pair split, but when Azalea found stardom with “Fancy,” music from Inizio started being released on streaming and iTunes—music that she never released herself or agreed to release.
Azalea’s camp sent out cease and desist letters, but Jafe’s camp claims he has her signature releasing the master recordings. And that’s where in the suit gets a little sticky: Azalea claims the documents are forgeries, and that the document that Jafe claims is a “music recording and composition agreement” is actually a copy-and-paste job from an expired management agreement with a third party, Kareem Chapman. Allegedly, the documents have different fonts, out of order paragraphs, and other signs of forgeries.
This lawsuit brings up a few interesting areas of the law surrounding the music industry. For instance, Iggy owns all of her music and image, however if she did sign a release with Jafe, then he could release—and profit off of—any masters she agreed to release. He could also use her name for the promotions. Celebrities suing for trademark or using their likeness is nothing new, and in fact Kim Kardashian filed suit against Old Navy for a similar claim, but signing a release or agreement is the loop hole.
Moreover, there are a myriad of documents artists must sign in order to make a living and protect themselves. This includes management contracts, legal agreements, recording contracts, and agent agreements, and numerous other releases. It would be very easy for a young artist to misunderstand a document, and it would be easy for an older music veteran to trick the young star. Unfortunately, this is all too common with younger musicians.
The suit will flush out some of those legal issues. Regardless of the outcome, it seems that the legal battle is going to get messy. Trademark and copyright issues aside, Jafe has now sued Azalea for a divorce, although the young rapper claims she never married Jafe.