Dr Dre has lost a legal bid against his former label, Death Row Records. A judge dismissed Dre's $3m (£1.8m) royalty claim – a minor setback for the recently minted richest man in hip-hop.
According to website TMZ, Dre had been using bankruptcy court to pursue what was left of Death Row, claiming that the defunct label illegally withheld part of his royalties from The Chronic. After his 1992 album reached one million sales his artist royalty rate was apparently supposed to rise from 18% to 20%, plus 4% as a producer; between 2006 and 2009, the difference allegedly amounted to $676,444 (£401,070) in mechanical royalties and $1.2m (£710,000) in artist and producer payments. He never received this money.
Part of the problem was that Dre and Death Row were no longer working together. The producer quit the label in 1996 and the record company filed for bankruptcy protection in 2006. Thereafter, their assets were managed by bankruptcy trustees.
On Friday, US judge Vincent Zurzolo accepted the defendants' motion to dismiss Dre's case, mostly on technical grounds. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Zurzolo found that Dre's lawyers did not sufficiently back up their sales and royalty figures, nor did they prove the existence of a relevant written contract. This case was also handicapped by a separate copyright lawsuit, which Dre won in 2011, and by the statute of limitations.
This legal defeat will not have any bearing on Dre's reported sale of Beats Electronics to Apple. The 49-year-old could earn up to $800 million, and will purportedly join Apple as an executive.