Earlier this year, rap star Yo Gotti and the manager of a Winston-Salem singer were at odds in a legal dispute. But this week, the lawsuit was dropped, the Memphis-born rapper paid the manager an undisclosed amount in a $6.6 million judgment against him, and Yo Gotti and the Winston-Salem singer, Young Fletcher, will have a song together released in the next two weeks.
Michael Terry, the chief executive of Stack Dollars Empire LLC and the manager of Young Fletcher, alleged in a lawsuit that he paid Yo Gotti $20,000 to rap a verse on Young Fletcher’s song. It was part of a well-known practice in the music industry called “jump-starting” — a major artist is paid to appear on a lesser-known artist’s song as a way of helping that artist break into mainstream success.
But Young Fletcher, whose legal name is Lamont Fletcher, couldn’t release the song because Yo Gotti never signed paperwork allowing for the song’s release. That resulted in a lawsuit and a May hearing at which Yo Gotti never appeared. The rapper also did not file a formal response to the lawsuit.
According to affidavits filed in the case, Terry and Young Fletcher made attempts to contact Yo Gotti in person and through his agents, managers and attorneys so that song could be released on streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music, as well as YouTube and similar websites. Terry said in an affidavit that Yo Gotti failed to show up at a promotional event in Greensboro and that he and Young Fletcher traveled to Washington and Atlanta to meet with Yo Gotti to get a signed agreement. They never got one.
Terry also alleged that Yo Gotti went behind his back and offered Young Fletcher $150,000 to leave Terry’s label and join his. Young Fletcher turned down the offer.
Judge Todd Burke of Forsyth Superior Court ordered the rapper, whose legal name is Mario Mims, to pay Terry $6.6 million. He found actual damages of $2.2 million and tripled that amount to $6.6 million based on the finding that Yo Gotti engaged in unfair and deceptive trade practices.
In June, Yo Gotti did appear in Forsyth Superior Court, along with his attorneys, James Cooney III and Brent Powell, arguing that the judgment should be vacated because Yo Gotti was not properly served with the complaint. Burke rejected those arguments and upheld the $6.6 million judgment.
Cooney and Powell had been preparing for an appeal with the N.C. Court of Appeals, but this week, Terry’s attorneys filed a voluntary dismissal of the lawsuit. Also filed was a certificate of payment on which Terry said the “judgment has been paid and satisfied in full.” Cooney said he could not comment when reached at his office Friday.
Clarke Dummit, Terry’s attorney, along with Brett Moore and Abigail Seymour, said Friday that the amount of money Yo Gotti paid Terry has not been disclosed. He declined to provide the amount
“He’s excited about the settlement and he’s releasing a new song featuring Yo Gotti called ‘Truth Be Told,’” Dummit said of Terry. “It is due to drop in the next 10 days.”
This song has an entirely new verse from Yo Gotti, Dummit said. The original song for which Terry paid Yo Gotti $20,000 to rap over will never be released, he said.
“My clients are very happy about the outcome,” he said.