Gucci Mane is currently in federal detention while he awaits two charges of gun possession as a felon, after two incidents this September where he allegedly flashed a gun and threatened police, issues that see him staring down a possible 20-year prison sentence. But he’s also got a high-profile civil suit pending against Waka Flocka Flame, Waka’s mother and Gucci’s former manager Deb Antney, OJ Da Juiceman and Zaytoven regarding royalties, payments and ownership of his label, 1017 Brick Squad.
That suit has two main contentions, according to Gucci’s lawyer Thomas Reynolds; one, that neither Deb Antney nor Waka Flocka Flame have ever been authorized by Gucci Mane as part- or co-owners of 1017 and therefore had no legal right to be handling money and transactions on behalf of Guwop, and that certain songs—particularly OJ Da Juiceman’s “Make The Trap Say Aye”—were his songs, and were essentially stolen from him while he was serving time in prison. Gucci has contended that in the course of her management of him and on behalf of his label, Antney collected or disbursed funds that were never approved by him, and thus are now owed to him.
“Ultimately, if he’s not been paid the funds that he’s due, he’s got a right to be reimbursed for any amounts that have been withheld from him,” Reynolds said in an interview with XXL. “There’s people that were taking funds that they weren’t entitled to, and obviously he’d need to be recouped for that as well. So whether it’s performance income that wasn’t disbursed, or accounting may have been incorrect on, or royalties from the record label, at the end of the day there has to be proper accounting of them.”
The suit is requesting the full financials, so Reynolds says it’s too early to put a concrete number on how much, exactly, Gucci is looking for. But speculation based on Gucci’s earnings during that time period could easily push the final number into the seven figures during the months, or potentially years, that the suit drags on, he says. Reynolds says that Antney has not been in contact with his firm or his client regarding the suit, though she said in an interview with RumorFix in November that the allegations were “so crazy.”
“It’s unfortunately not uncommon for an artist to be screwed out of funds. It happens on a routine basis in the music industry, and I just think it’s important when there are questions about these things that people are held accountable and they have to show where the funds have gone,” Reynolds says. “When people aren’t able to produce that information accurately or the numbers don’t match, people have to be held accountable.”
One of the other recent rumors surrounding Gucci, and fueled by his apparently lean-induced Twitter rampage that lasted nearly a week this September, was that he’d been dropped from Atlantic Records. That, according to Reynolds, is simply not true. Rather, all existing contracts surrounding 1017 are still intact; the label partnership with Atlantic, Gucci’s personal deal with Atlantic, Brick Squad Monopoly’s status as a subsidiary to 1017, and Young Thug’s contract as a 1017 artist.
“As far as Gucci’s concerned those labels are still signed to him, and Brick Squad Monopoly is still a subsidiary of 1017,” says Reynolds. “As of right now, that’s the way it stands. Now if somebody wants to make an offer to buy it, or to release themselves from a contract, obviously he’ll entertain that and we’ll move forward at that time. But there’s been no serious offers.”
As far as Zaytoven and OJ are concerned, Gucci maintains that he made “Make The Trap Say Aye” with Zaytoven, and that after he went to jail the song was given to OJ Da Juiceman and released, with Gucci shunted to the second verse. It remains unclear, however, if there were any contracts in writing identifying the track as Gucci’s song; Reynolds declined to comment on the specifics of what was in writing or what was word of mouth. “Those sort of things take place, and when they do, if people steal your song and wind up making money off it and don’t compensate you, that’s not proper,” Reynolds says. “That’s illegal.”
The suit is digging into the financials, including claims that checks from Atlantic Records from Gucci’s 1017 label deal were not properly disbursed or were not distributed to artists; that money was not given to Gucci either, and is currently in limbo as to who was responsible for handling it or where it all went. It’s all part of a case that as twisted as it is incestuous, with former friends and business partners pointing fingers and trying to count money. But all Reynolds—and, through him, Gucci Mane—is looking for is the truth of where all the funds went, and for everyone to be properly compensated.
“To be quite frank, some of those people that were listed as defendants might just as easily have been co-plaintiffs in different circumstances,” he says. “I’m not gonna advise them on how to handle their legal representation, but in the meantime we need accounting to be done of everything that happened so we can get to the bottom of who was paid what and who was owed what.” —Dan Rys (@danrys), with additional reporting from Emmanuel C.M. (@ECM_LP)