explainer

What’s Up With Megan Thee Stallion’s Messy Label Legal Battle?

Megan Thee Stallion Photo: Stephen Lovekin/Shutterstock

Known hottie Megan Thee Stallion claims her label 1501 Certified Entertainment is stiffing her on payment. In a now-deleted Instagram post, Megan alleges that she has never received payment from 1501 “in her life.” For several years, she has expressed her desire to leave the independent Houston label led by ex–baseball player Carl Crawford. On March 21, 1501 countersued the rapper over the definition of an “album,” claiming that 2021’s Something for Thee Hotties does not fulfill the requirements to be deemed an album. The countersuit follows Meg’s original February 2022 lawsuit, in which she claimed that Something counted as an album and would contribute toward satisfying her obligations to the label. The new legal storm arrives after Megan’s previous lawsuits against 1501, in which she claimed the label barred her from releasing new music after she tried to renegotiate their contract. Below, we break down their current legal battles and the circumstances that led to their fallout.

So what is an album in this context?

If it looks like an album and sounds like an album … it still might not be an album by the legal definition.

According to Meg, an album is a 45-minute-long musical project. By that definition, Something for Thee Hotties is a bona fide album because it exceeds the 45-minute run time by exactly two seconds. If Megan’s definition of an album is supported in court, her contract with 1501 would be fulfilled and she could finally free herself from the label and Crawford, whom she dragged in multiple tweets.

According to 1501 Certified Entertainment, Something for Thee Hotties is not album enough, relegating it to mixtape status. 1501 claimed that Something does not fulfill the 45-minute definition of an album, either, as it is “made up of 21 recordings and includes spoken interlude recordings on which MTS does not appear as well as several previously released recordings.” Instead, the label alleges that Something contains only 29 minutes of original material. Megan’s lawyer, Brad Hancock, told Complex, “This is yet another absurd attempt by 1501 to disregard Megan’s album and squeeze more money and free work out of her for as long as possible. We will ask the court to protect Megan from this type of abuse.”

How many lawsuits are there?

Four, so far. In March 2020, Megan sued 1501 for allegedly stopping her from releasing new music, requesting that the judge throw out her current contract with the label. Megan took her troubles to Instagram Live. “When I signed, I didn’t really know what was in my contract. I think I was, like, 20,” she said. Under the current contract, Megan receives a 40 percent cut of the recording profits, while 1501 receives the remaining 60 percent, a departure from the industry standard of 50-50 recording profits. This 360 deal also means that Megan must cede profits from sectors that labels usually can’t touch, including publishing, touring income, merchandising, and more. The performer claims that after signing with Roc Nation, the agency told her the contract was iffy. She decided to renegotiate with 1501, which led the label to bar her from releasing new music. On March 2, she won a court battle to instate a temporary restraining order against 1501 that allowed her to release Suga.

In August 2021, Megan filed another suit against 1501 to permit her foray into the K-pop-stan market with a remix of “Butter,” by BTS. Her label allegedly blocked her from releasing the song, but she claimed in court documents that barring the song’s release would cause “irreparable damage” to her career. Megan won the suit, giving the world the Megan Thee Stallion x BTS collaboration we didn’t know we needed.

On February 18, 2022, Megan filed a suit claiming that Something verifiably meets the definition of an album with its 45 minute, two-second run time. If the project is determined to be an album in court, it will count toward fulfilling Megan’s contract, meaning she can leave 1501 sooner rather than later.

1501 countersued Megan on March 21 by claiming that Something is not an album. If the court rules in favor of 1501, Megan would be contractually obligated to release two more albums under the label. Megan expressed her desire to terminate the contract with 1501, claiming she is “tired of being painted the BAD GUY 2/47.” She also claimed that Crawford added his “jewelry and chains” to an expense report.

Sounds messy.

And there is even more back-and-forth between Megan and Crawford going down on social media. Here, a few tweets that really express how down with all this Meg is:

How did 1501 respond to Megan’s tweets and allegations?

1501 reposted screenshots of a TMZ article about the countersuit on its account — @1501certifiedent — along with an inflammatory caption asking Megan to “stop playing the victim.” “u haven’t paid for 1 show since 2019 🤬 hiding behind #Rocnation,” the label added. 1501 also dismissed Something as a “bullshit ass mix tape.”

Has anyone else signed to the label said anything?

Megan’s gripes with 1501 are not an isolated incident. Hardyboy Pigg, the first artist signed by 1501, told Complex that after he was recruited by Crawford’s then–business partner, T. Farris, the label “left me for dead the whole time I was in jail.” “The same shit Megan went through, I was going through,” he said.

Rapper Haroldlujah told Complex that he wanted out of his contract as well, comparing the deal to “signing with the devil.” T. Farris also introduced singer Railey Rose to the label. Although Rose never signed a contract, she claims “they distributed most of my music, and I never received any statements or earnings. I was never given a true advance.”

In her tweets, when Meg referred to “the last girl on 1501” who also felt wronged by the label, many speculated that it was Erica Banks, the “Buss It” rapper and rising rap star. Banks signed with 1501 after turning down deals with DaBaby, Atlantic Records, and Capitol Records. Banks has not publicly mentioned any issues with 1501 at this time.

What’s next for Megan Thee Stallion and 1501?

The ensuing legal clash rages on as Megan and 1501’s Crawford decide what constitutes an album in court. Megan released the track “Sweetest Pie,” a collaboration with Dua Lipa, on March 11. Although she is still releasing new tracks, a court ruling will decide whether or not Crawford will continue to reap the benefits of Megan’s lucrative music career. 1501 also demanded to see a full accounting of Megan’s profits from “collaborations, sponsorships, endorsements, and side engagements” that could chalk up to $1 million. Megan is one of 1501’s biggest stars, with over 28.6 million monthly listeners on Spotify. Additionally, if 1501 does file a defamation suit, as it threatened on Instagram, the rapper and her label will continue their messy legal battle long after we find out what an album really is.

Vulture reached out to 1501 Certified Entertainment for comment. 1501 has not responded at the time of publishing.

What’s Up With Megan Thee Stallion’s Messy Label Lawsuit?