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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 and may be sabotaging the rollout for her upcoming album, Traumazine. In a now-deleted Instagram post from February 2020, Megan — legal name Megan Pete — alleges she 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 Something does count as an album and contributes to 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 her contract. And on August 11, the rapper decided to release her newest album, Traumazine, after a stunted rollout plagued by song and cover-art leaks, hinting in new tweets that the leaks could have been sabotage from 1501. Below, we break down the current legal battles between Meg and 1501 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 music project. By that definition, Something for Thee Hotties is a bona fide album because it exceeds the 45-minute running 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 more free work out of her for as long as possible. We will ask the court to protect Megan from this type of abuse.”

In an amended filing made on August 18, Megan suggested that 1501 may try to discount her new album, Traumazine, as well, per Rolling Stone. Steven Zager, a lawyer for the label, told the magazine it still wants “to really analyze the new album” and doesn’t “want to be unreasonable.” Megan’s new filing formally asks a judge to declare that Traumazine and Something both count as albums and thus complete her contract with 1501.

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 Megan must cede profits from sectors that labels usually can’t touch, including publishing, touring income, and merchandising. 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.

Then, 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 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.

But 1501 countersued Megan on March 21 by claiming 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 [sic].” 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 done 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 who’s 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. Vulture reached out to 1501 Certified Entertainment for comment. 1501 has not responded at the time of publishing.

Rapper Haroldlujah told Complex he, too, wanted out of his contract, 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 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. Meg 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 Crawford will continue to reap the benefits of Meg’s lucrative music career. 1501 also demanded to see a full accounting of her profits from “collaborations, sponsorships, endorsements, and side engagements” that could add up to $1 million. Meg 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.

Her latest album could end it all. “Y’all know I always have problems with dropping my music under this label,all these games and having to go to court just to put out my art has been so stressful,” she tweeted on August 10. The tweet was in reference to the rollout of Tramauzine, which was plagued by leaks after the new record was teased on social media. “Thank you hotties for rocking with me through the bullshit WE ALMOST OUT,” she also posted. Could Meg finally be free of 1501 Entertainment and Crawford? Although Meg and her fans may be “almost out” of 1501’s shackles, she did not provide any new details about her legal battle with the label.

She did, however, take the time to hint at 1501’s role in leaking her songs and album art ahead of Traumazine’s official rollout. In an August 11 tweet, she said she will keep the Hotties updated on the “chaotic shot [sic] that’s most likely gone happen today” before hinting that 1501 was the culprit that spoiled the rollout. “From my cover art, pieces of my track list and me even hearing a part of a song I haven’t dropped yet leaking (and we ALL know who the only ppl who had access to all these PRIVATE links are..) I might as well…lol,” Megan wrote. Immediately following these tweets, she announced, with a trailer, a track list, and official cover art, that Traumazine would now arrive on August 12 in an effort to stave off any more alleged sabotage. “Carl be so mf mad,” she tweeted later. “ahhhh haaaa that’s why you can’t make no more money off me.” Just as in “NDA,” Megan legally backed it up in court, claiming that she believes the label first leaked her album on August 4. She has hired investigators to track the leak’s source, the filing says. The new amendment also ups the stakes of her allegations against 1501, with the rapper now asking for $1 million in compensatory damages. That amount covers the royalties Megan claims 1501 has yet to pay. 1501 attorney Zager replied that Megan added damages to the lawsuit “for the impact.” The label disputes the claim that it leaked Traumazine. “I don’t even think my guys would know how to leak it,” Zager told Rolling Stone. “Nor can I think of a motive.”

This post has been updated.

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