Four days after being her record label was hit with a $20 million lawsuit, singer Chrisette Michele is speaking out on the matter through her publicist.
In a recently filed lawsuit, Douglas “Biggs” Ellison accused Island Def Jam Music Group, Shalik Berry (A&R) and Michele’s parents Lynette and Lemuel Payne of engaging in unlawful business practices, in an attempt to get Michele out of her exclusive contracts with his Queens-based production company, Four Kings Productions Inc.
Rochelle Brown, the singer’s publicist, disputed Ellison’s claims, as she argued that the businessman’s motivation for the suit is driven by personal reasons.
“This is just a case of the jilted lover and gold digging manager getting caught,” Brown told AllHipHop.com in a statement. “The Payne’s and Mr. Berry did not unlawfully try to get Chrisette out of her contract with Four Kings. Mr. Ellison’s devious plot to exploit and rip Chrisette off began to be revealed.”
Michele’s relationship with Ellison turned romantic, after the two met while the singer attended 5 Towns College in Long Island.
According to Brown, Ellison was “instrumental in getting Chrisette in her record deal with Def Jam” as well as creating a contract that entitled him 50 percent of everything, including writers royalties, merchandising, booking and management.
Brown claims that Ellison stole money from Michele as well as money Def Jam allocated to pay the sound engineers and co-producers who worked on the singer’s debut album I AM.
Additionally, samples used were not paid for, Brown said, adding that Ellison convinced Michele to let him handle her affairs and not hire an attorney or manager.
Brown credits Michele’s mother, Lynette Payne, with helping her daughter during this time. Brown also set the record straight on claims Ellison made in his lawsuit, claiming that Payne quit her job as a teacher when her daughter began making money from her singing.
“Mrs. Payne has always been active in Chrisette’s career full time since 2002, not 2005,” said Brown, who also shot down the notion that Ellison discovered Michele.
“Before she signed her contract and meet Mr. Ellison, Mrs. Payne was involved and has always been involved in an advisory role,” Brown stated. “No contracts have been breached except on the end of Mr.Ellison. His reputation has been damaged as a consequence of the unlawful and idiotic transactions he decided to make.”