Singer Akon is reportedly being sued for $150 million (£116 million) in unpaid earnings by the music executive who helped launched his career.
According to editors at TMZ, the Locked Up singer has been accused of withholding royalties from his former business partner, respected music executive DeVyne Stephens, for more than 10 years. Stephens managed and helped launch Akon’s career after signing him to his label UpFront Records, and later the pair reportedly became business partners in KonLive Distribution, the label which signed Lady Gaga and released her first three albums.
In a new lawsuit, the industry veteran alleges his management deal with the Senegalese-American artist ensured him a 40 percent cut of everything Akon earned from record sales, touring rights, royalties since 2006. Akon has reportedly earned nearly $400 million (£310 million) in just over a decade.
Stephens admits the pair had a previous dispute over the contract but claims it was resolved in 2015. However, he has now taken legal action after failing to receive any of the reported cash owed.In a rare interview in 2009, Stephens spoke about the origin of his professional relationship with the Smack That singer.
“Akon and I started off as friends. I was introduced to Akon by a rapper by the name of Lil’ Zane. He brought Akon by my rehearsal hall which is where Usher, TLC, and other talent were being developed at,” he told website Planet Ill.
“He’d stop by and come in asking me for advice and that’s how it started off; as a friendship, with me mentoring him with the business aspect of it. When he lost his deal with Elektra I signed him.”
In 2016, the R&B star was accused of hiding his finances to avoid paying a producer’s royalties. Leland Clopton claimed Akon’s record label bosses at Konvict Entertainment hid the star’s accounts for years to keep him in the dark and avoid paying him at least $1 million (£776,000), according to TMZ.