Akon’s former business partner claims the R&B singer still owes him nearly $4 million from a prior settlement agreement, according to new court papers.
Devyne Stephens — a music exec who’s worked with musicians including Jay-Z, Destiny’s Child, Usher, Pink and TLC — claims he’s still owed $750,000 and at least $3 million in royalties, according to an amended complaint filed in the 2021 Manhattan Supreme Court lawsuit.
Under the 2018 agreement, the “Smack That” singer agreed to pay Stephens $3.25 million over the course of four years but he still hasn’t paid the last installment of $750,000, the updated suit claims.
This is the third time that Stephens has had to drag the Senegalese songwriter — whose career he helped launch — to court following their business breakup.
Stephens alleges that Akon sabotaged his relationship with Atlantic Records to get out of a clause of their settlement that states he would pay Stephens royalties for four future albums while under a “major” label, according to the filing from Tuesday.Stephens accused Akon of deliberately breaching his record contract so he wouldn’t have to pay him royalties.Getty Images for BET
Now Akon claims he should be let off the hook for Stephens’ 20 percent cut of royalties since he’s now under BMG Records, Stephens alleges in the court papers.
But Stephens argues that Akon can’t get out of those royalty payments since Akon allegedly intentionally breached his contract with Atlantic and since BMG “by any objective metric, is a ‘major’ record label.”
“Akon has spent the better part of a decade frustrating Stephens’ attempts to obtain large amounts of money which Akon unambiguously promised in contracts to pay Stephens,” the court documents charge.Stephens has taken Akon to court three times since their business breakup.WireImage
“Although Akon argues he is not currently signed to a ‘major’ record label, he is wrong,” the suit claims.
Stephens’ new lawyer, Jeff Movit, declined to comment.
Akon’s lawyer didn’t immediately return a request for comment.