Lil Durk Faces $12 Million+ Breach of Contract Suit Over ‘Manifest Fraud’ in Song-Investment Deal Turned Sour

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Photo Credit: YoIsThatJordan / CC by 4.0

Lil Durk is facing a $12 million lawsuit from music fintech Exceed Talent Capital, which claims that the rapper and others committed “manifest fraud” by violating the terms of a 2022 agreement.

New York City-based Exceed Talent Capital, the “sole member” of which is a namesake business headquartered in Israel, filed the suit against Lil Durk, his (seemingly former) manager Andrew Bonsu, his Only the Family group and label, and consulting firm TTPMG.

One of several startups to debut in recent years with the goal of enabling fans to buy stakes in music, Exceed Talent Capital specifically says it allows supporters “to invest directly into their favorite artists and earn alongside them in an SEC-compliant marketplace.”

According to its website homepage, the company, which counts as president Anthony Martini and announced a multimillion-dollar raise in October of 2022, has “withdrawn its current investment offerings” and is working to develop the “next big thing.”

On this front, Exceed in a voluminous offering circular filed earlier in 2023 disclosed a number of noteworthy operational details – albeit before appearing to pull the plug on the plans at hand in November.

In any event, bringing the focus back to the complaint against Lil Durk, the case centers on an alleged commitment to affording Exceed “significant rights in connection with” a recording called “Bedtime.”  

As described in the suit, Bonsu (who’s said to own Only the Family) and TTPMG CEO Oretha Lee in the summer of 2022 began negotiating with Exceed on the transfer of an interest in “Bedtime” – having allegedly “assured Exceed that they possessed the power and lawful authority to” do so.

These talks rather quickly set the stage for an ill-advised agreement to which Lil Durk “is not expressly defined…as a direct party,” per the legal text. Nevertheless, the Chicago-born artist purportedly signed off on the contract, which allegedly compelled him to perform promotional activities involving the track.

Expanding upon the point, Exceed was according to the lawsuit poised to pay the defendant entities (Only the Family and TTPMG, that is) a total flat fee of $600,000. The perhaps-underwhelming sum – 31-year-old Lil Durk has 26.1 million monthly Spotify listeners and billions of on-platform streams – would have entitled Exceed to bank the recorded royalties from and exploit the (ostensibly Empire-distributed) song “‘in perpetuity,’” the document shows.

Moreover, the payment was expected to reach the defendants incrementally, as certain contractual stipulations (delivering the recording, plugging it on social media, etc.) were met. As of August of 2022, the plaintiff, allegedly deceived by “a number of material representations and warranties,” had ponied up $450,000, the lawsuit indicates.

Enter Sony Music’s Alamo Records, which in May of this year sent a firmly worded letter to Exceed, explaining, among other things, that Lil Durk “was signed to an exclusive recording agreement with Alamo and that neither defendants nor Empire possess any right” to reassign revenue from the “Bedtime” recording, according to the lawsuit.

After learning of the “troubling information,” which should, of course, have been picked up on pre-deal, Exceed was “met with resounding silence” when it tried to compel the defendants to “rectify their contractual breaches” and return the nearly half-million-dollar payment they’d received, per the filing.

Additionally, the contract at hand allegedly entitled Exceed to a $600,000 penalty in the event of a “material breach” and adjacent termination of the pact. All told, the plaintiff is seeking north of $12 million in damages, pointing to the reputational harm it allegedly suffered from the episode as well as expenses purportedly racked up during the SEC registration process and when refunding would-be investors’ funds.