Los Angeles-based DJ MK — Will Smith’s former in-house producer, who has worked as a remixer/producer for Celine Dion, Rihanna, Diplo, Mary J. Blige, Pitbull and Lana Del Rey — is suing his former management company alleging “unfair and unlawful exploitation” abuse of trust, mismanagement and fraudulent misconduct.
MK, whose real name is Marc Kinchen, filed the lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court July 29 against MDM Artists and its principals, Marci Weber and Mark Davenport, alleging fraud and unfair business practices. According to court papers, MK says they have withheld more than $1.5 million in commissions.
MK, who is known for the remixes he has produced for many prominent, A-list artists, says he was intentionally misled about the terms of his management agreement with MDM Artists. According to his court papers, MDM Artists “effectively coerced him into signing it during a surprise, ambush ‘meeting’ at an airport — the morning after a late night/early-morning concert, outside the presence of counsel, without permitting MK the opportunity to have counsel review the document, and without a full and complete (or any) explanation of the essential terms at issue.” He says he was “duped” into signing the “purported management agreement” and that Weber and Davenport “exercised complete and total control of his finances,” keeping him in the dark. He calls the management agreement he was made to sign “illegal” and “unenforceable.”
Things came to a head in early 2015, when MK believed that both Weber and Davenport were “almost entirely dependent” on him for their income, according to the complaint. He says they had no other major clients at the time when they learned that MK was thinking about dropping them. According to MK’s court filing, his managers then “concocted a fraudulent scheme to ‘lock up’ MK — for a least a decade and potentially for the rest of his career.” He says he was made to sign the agreement on Jan. 1, 2015, the morning after a late night performance when Davenport met him at the airport, pulled the agreement out of his backpack and demanded that he immediately sign the new 12-page document.
MK says while he was told that it contained the same terms as his previous contract, he later learned that buried in the agreement was a brand new “Sunset Clause” that provided that his management company will receive full income on all deals initiated from their guidance in perpetuity.
Matt Rosengart, an attorney and shareholder at Greenberg Traurig who represents MK in this lawsuit, says that “even by the sometimes rough and tumble standards in the industry, MDM’s conduct was outrageous — and it is ongoing.
“While MK was willing to work things out amicably, MDM, which took excessive and improper commissions for years, was, in effect, seeking an unwarranted windfall in the form of a massive multi-year annuity from Marc, despite their egregious misconduct and having been terminated despite their efforts to lock him into an improper, decade-long agreement,” Rosengart says.
MK seeks damages of at least $2 million and, together with a petition before the California Labor Commission, disgorgement of approximately $1.5 million of commissions obtained by MDM.
MDM Artists had not responded to a request for comment.