Chance the Rapper is facing a $3 million-plus lawsuit for allegedly failing to pay his fired former manager, Pat Corcoran, the agreed upon share of earnings from music, touring, and merchandise sales.
Update (12/4): Chance the Rapper’s team reached out to Digital Music News with the following statement on Pat Corcoran’s lawsuit:
“Mr. Corcoran has filed a suit for allegedly unpaid commissions. In fact, Mr. Corcoran has been paid all of the commissions to which he is legally entitled. Most of the complaint consists of self-serving and fabricated allegations that are wholly unrelated to Mr. Corcoran’s claim for commissions and were plainly included in a calculated attempt to seek attention. Those allegations are wholly without merit, are grossly offensive and we will respond to them within the context of the litigation.”
Below is our original coverage of the complaint.
Corcoran and his legal team recently submitted the firmly worded complaint to a Cook County court, naming Chicago-born Chance the Rapper (and specifically his namesake company) as well as two other businesses associated with the artist, Cool Pop Merch and CTR Touring, as defendants.
Digital Music News obtained an exclusive copy of the corresponding legal document, which begins by describing the nature of the professional relationship between Chance the Rapper, whose full name is Chancelor Johnathan Bennett, and Pat Corcoran. During their more than eight years in business together – Chance recorded his first mixtape, 2012’s 10 Day, while in high school – the two “upended traditional norms, broke barriers and redefined the music industry,” per the filing.
To be sure, Corcoran provided Bennett with “advice and counsel” concerning numerous facets of his career – PR, releases, promotional strategies, creative guidance, merchandise, endorsements, and more – and persuaded the 27-year-old to maintain ownership of his masters by foregoing signing with a major label, the text indicates. Corcoran ultimately dropped out of college to manage Chance, who agreed to pay 15 percent of all net profits (including those deriving from music sales and streaming, touring, and merch alike) in exchange for the services.
The filing relays that Chance the Rapper initially offered Corcoran 10 percent of gross revenue, but the manager agreed to accept 15 percent of net profits in order to “avoid stunting his [Chance’s] career trajectory.” Furthermore, the plaintiff claims that he incurred north of $2.5 million worth of “unreimbursed expenses” promoting his client, with all Chance the Rapper-related business operations having been run by Corcoran “out of a three-flat building that housed his office and apartment.”
Whether ‘Pat the Manager’ carefully documented that $2.5 million tally is unclear, or whether any contract pertaining to those expenses exists. But it was mentioned in the lawsuit, which means Corcoran’s attorneys could press for compensation.
The suit also notes that Corcoran was responsible for supervising “the scheduling, recording, and mixing” of Chance’s newest mixtape, Coloring Book, besides negotiating “the clearing process with teams of multiple A-list artists [Kanye West, Justin Bieber, Lil Wayne, Young Thug, and more] who put up considerable resistance.”
Nearly eight years into their mutually beneficial relationship, however, the two encountered a major hurdle when Chance “unilaterally” announced that he would release his first studio album in July of 2019. Corcoran states that he took issue with the outlined timetable because his client hadn’t yet started writing when he publicly unveiled the project in February of 2019, voicing the belief “that there was not enough time for the creative process.”
The Big Day was “subpar,” poorly received, and delivered “a blow to the reputations of Bennett and Corcoran,” according to the legal text. Moreover, the planned 30-stop tour in support of the release, which ran five shows in 2019 and would have come close to concluding just before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, was shelved due to “low ticket sales and poor attendance projections.”
Chance the Rapper then fired Corcoran in April of 2020, tapping his brother (fellow rapper Taylor Bennett) and his father to replace the longtime manager. The strategies of the management teams varied dramatically, with Corcoran pushing for Chance to regroup creatively, while his family members pursued a more public rebound strategy (including talk-show appearances that “served only to further exacerbate the failure of The Big Day”).
“Months of contentious negotiations” resulted in Corcoran sending a bill for over $3 million (based upon his aforementioned 15 percent share of total revenues), to which Chance’s father responded by offering a flat $350,000 payment. Owing to this lack of an agreement, the plaintiff “has every reason to believe that” Chance the Rapper will opt not to cover commissions in the three years following the termination, though paying the fee during the period “is standard industry practice.”
At the time of this writing, Chance the Rapper hadn’t commented publicly on the complaint levied by Corcoran. Last month, Celine Dion lost her $13 million legal battle against global talent agency ICM Partners and her former agent, Rob Prinz. Separately, Kelly Clarkson is facing a $1.4 million lawsuit from her previous management company.