COLUMBIA — Lil Wayne owns a record label called Young Money, but the mega-star rapper is out some cash with the growing legal fight after his Columbia concert no-show.
Columbia promoters did not pay $45,000 owed the hip-hop mogul and now want Lil Wayne to cough up the $65,000 sent before the concert, according to an amended lawsuit filed this month.
In addition, the promoters, All for One, have added entertainment industry powerhouse Ticketmaster to its suit against Colonial Life Arena at the University of South Carolina. They are battling over refunding $409,000 for 5,299 tickets sold to the concert featuring Lil Wayne and three other rap stars.
The other rappers appeared on stage while Lil Wayne left before his performance after refusing to go through security screening.
A Colonial Life security official said in court documents he wouldn’t let Lil Wayne use an arena restroom while he waited for promoters and arena managers to negotiate getting the rapper on stage unless the Grammy Award winner passed through a metal detector.
Promoters won a first round in court in stopping refunds so they can receive their cut from ticket sales, but Circuit Judge DeAndrea Benjamin lifted an injunction this month that allowed concert-goers to get their money back. The arena and Ticketmaster had refunded nearly half of the tickets, according to a document included in the promoters’ complaint. The judge ordered the sides reach a settlement by February.
Disputes like Lil Wayne’s in South Carolina are rare, industry experts said, so it’s getting attention in the music business as lines shift on requiring more backstage security checks and offering refunds for shows with multiple acts.
“If the industry is not watching this, they should be,” said Dave Brooks, a senior writer at Billboard who covers concert tours. “This is one of stranger things I have ever heard of.”
Brooks is not surprised that Colonial Life Arena screened performers and crews for weapons and is refunding tickets when Lil Wayne never performed.
“You want people to trust the ticket will be good and that no one will get killed,” he said.
Weapons screenings are becoming common for artists and crews after fatal shootings backstage at rap concerts in California and New York during the past three years, industry experts said.
Those shootings “pointed out the glaring hole in the security protocols,” said Gary Bongiovanni, president of concert publication Pollstar.
After promoters were sued following the deadly shootings, Brooks said, “I would see why (All for One) would want to limit their liability.”
Some artists have balked at gun bans. Country artist Jamey Johnson’s show at the House of Blues in North Myrtle Beach in July was called off over a reported beef on having weapons backstage.
Venues are supposed to provide security to protect the acts, Brooks said. “I can see where a venue would not want the artist and the crew shooting their way out of bad situation," he added.
Of the chaotic Saturday night at Colonial Life Arena, Brooks added, “It seems like this all could have been handled better.”
Lil Wayne was supposed to get paid $110,000 for a 40-minute performance, according to a contract included in court filings. He was scheduled as the final act in a lineup that included 2 Chainz, Tory Lanez and Cardi B.
Lil Wayne was the biggest name artist in the concert dubbed the Fall Ball, but promoters have disputed he was the headliner — a critical argument in their legal case about issuing refunds.
Both sides agree promoters requested a walk-through metal detector to screen performers and crew. They differ over whether the arena required the security screenings.
Promoters suggested they were being singled out because it was a rap concert. USC Police Lt. Scott Ellis said in an affidavit that he recommended screening with metal detectors based on information about the performers and “not the genre of music to be played.”
During a meeting days before the concert, a Colonial Life Arena manager said screenings with metal-detecting wands were required. Promoters said in court documents their $35,000 contract with the arena gave them control over security measures.
The morning of the Sept. 30 show, promoters said they learned Lil Wayne would not enter the arena through the walk-through metal detector. Promoters said Lil Wayne's representatives agreed the rapper would use a VIP entrance where he could be screened privately using metal detection wands.
The other performers went through detectors, an arena security official said, but a representative of Lil Wayne emerged from a black SUV to tell arena managers that the rapper refused to the use the VIP entrance and go through screening.
Brooks said he understands why Lil Wayne would feel disrespected.
“Typically, a star like that usually has most of his requests granted,” he said. “I understand why he would be embarrassed to be searched and wanded in front of people. Sounds like there were errors in communication.”
While arena officials, police and promoters worked on a compromise, Lil Wayne’s representative asked arena security chief Stanley Owens if the rapper could use the bathroom, according to an affidavit. Lil Wayne would have to go through a metal detector to enter the arena, Owens said, but he could use a bathroom at a nearby office without a security check.
“After a few minutes, people came through the door and said that Lil Wayne had left,” Owens said.
Promoters said Lil Wayne departed after waiting an hour. The rapper’s representatives tried unsuccessfully to get Lil Wayne to return after police agreed to escort him to and from the stage, Lexie Boone, the arena’s senior assistant general manager, said in an affidavit.
Once Lil Wayne exited, arena officials and promoters have very different versions about announcing refunds.
Promoters said they did not agree to giving money back because Lil Wayne was not the main attraction. Cardi B's "Bodak Yellow" was a top single on the Billboard charts at the time, they noted. 2 Chainz won a Grammy in February and has had a top-charting album.
But Colonial Life Arena managers said promoters were on board with refunds and learned the next day they had changed their mind.
Representatives for Lil Wayne did not returns calls or text messages. Ticketmaster did not respond to an email seeking comment. The attorney representing USC said he was not authorized to speak for his client.
The arena expects to lose $11,000 from refunding the tickets, according to court documents, but promoters said they are losing much more.
Dennis Taylor, co-owners of All for One, said in court documents that Lil Wayne canceled two additional dates planned with his concert promotion firm. All for One also called off events planned in Mississippi and Tennessee because of the refunds from the Columbia show. The dispute over the ticket money has damaged relationships in the industry, Taylor said.
All for One said Lil Wayne should have expected to go though a security screening. Attorneys included a news article in court filings about a 2015 Lil Wayne concert called off in Minnesota after his entourage refused to go through the venue's "standard safety procedures."
Instead of performing in Columbia that night, the rapper went to the airport, leaving a money battle behind.