Chicago DJ sues over early Kanye West recordings

Eric “E-Smoove” Miller and West have sparred in court before.

A legal battle over recordings Kanye West made pre-fame has reignited, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

Eric “E-Smoove” Miller has sued Universal Music Group, Def Jam Recordings and Island Records for breach of contract and fiduciary duty, among other things, over unreleased Ye recordings he turned over to the label more than a decade ago.

Miller, a DJ/producer who hails from the Chicago suburbs, says that he met the young rapper when West’s mother brought him to Miller’s recording studio in 1994. Miller says he became West’s mentor, and West recorded music with his label, Focus Music Group. According to the Washington Post, those songs bore titles like “Ho!!!” and “Stop Frontin’.”

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West sued Miller in 2005 over those recordings, alleging that he offered the songs to distributors with a fake contract bearing a fake signature. West demanded more than $1 million and a ban on Miller using West’s name and voice in connection with the recordings. Miller counter-sued, but later settled with Island Def Jam and turned the recordings over to the label.

Island Def Jam promised Miller a cut of the profits if the songs were released, and the recordings back if they weren’t. In 2009, the label told Miller it was not able to release the songs due to issues with sample clearance. In the suit, the producer called this claim “preposterous,” as “Island Def Jam is a pioneering label in sample clearance and clearing samples is a routine function of releasing Kanye West albums, as well as hundreds of other releases in the Island Def Jam catalog.”

In this new suit, filed Monday, Miller seeks a jury trial, damages and reimbursement for his legal fees. To read more about Miller’s relationship with West and the legal debacle in 2005, check out this comprehensive history published by Chicago Magazine in 2006.

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