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Jay-Z lays into perfume company’s “crappy, lazy work” in ongoing legal battle

By | Published on Tuesday 2 November 2021


Jay-Z was yesterday given a chance to expand on why working with perfume company Parlux back in 2013 was so “frustrating”. Back to provide a second day of testimony in his legal battle with the fragrance firm, he critiqued his former business partner’s “crappy, lazy work”, including a “b-rate” commercial and unapproved Superdrug alliance for his Gold Jay-Z perfume brand. The problem with the product, he was basically arguing, wasn’t his failure to promote it, but Parlux’s terrible marketing.

Parlux sued Jay-Z – real name Shawn Carter – back in 2016, accusing the rapper of failing to meet his commitments to plug the Gold Jay-Z brand that they partnered on, resulting in millions of dollars of losses for the perfume maker. The dispute then slowly worked its way through the system before arriving in a New York court room last month.

During his first day of testimony on Friday, Carter sparred in a suitably entertaining fashion with Parlux’s lawyer Anthony Viola. There was more of that yesterday, though Carter’s own legal rep Alex Spiro was also on hand to ensure that his client was given an opportunity to lay into Parlux and its marketing efforts around Gold Jay-Z. You know, all that “crappy, lazy work” they did.

On Friday, Viola listed various promo efforts Parlux had planned around the 2013 launch of Gold Jay-Z, and explained how the rapper then didn’t support those efforts. Responding, Carter argued that he wasn’t actually contractually obliged to do those specific promotions in the days after the launch of his perfume brand, while also alluding to the “creative differences” he had with the Parlux team, who were “frustrating” to work with.

To illustrate those creative differences, Spiro played an advert that Parlux created for Gold Jay-Z, which featured dancing nude woman dripping in gold. According to Law360, the rapper critiqued the ad thus: “Pretty much like all their ideas – lazy”.

And that was also his opinion of the commercial when it was made in 2013, an email from that time shown to the jury confirmed. In said email, the rapper reluctantly signed off on the ad the night before the perfume’s official launch, but added “it’s a b-rate commercial and my name is on it”. Commenting on that email yesterday, Carter quipped, “I was being kind”.

Spiro also talked through a follow-up product Parlux subsequently created as part of its alliance with the rapper that was sold in Superdrug in the UK. “Again, it’s crappy, lazy work”, Carter said of the Superdrug partnership, which he claims he never approved.

Nor would he have done, Carter added, Superdrug hardly being an appropriate partner for what he considered to be a high-end perfume product. In another email shown in court, sent around about the launch of the Superdrug partnership, one of the rapper’s team wrote: “Parlux is out of control … they are rogue”.

However, Carter insisted during Spiro’s questions, these creative differences did not lead to him seeking to force the perfume products Parlux was selling to fail. After all, he said, the products still had his name on the side of the bottle, and it was his reputation that would take a hit from any failure. He’d never “cut off my nose to spite my face”, he told the courtroom.

Spiro’s questions were presumably designed to convince the jury that Parlux simply didn’t understand how to market a perfume brand involving a prestigious music star like Jay-Z, meaning it therefore screwed up the launch, and is now using this lawsuit to shirk the blame. Whether the jury bought that line of argument we don’t yet know, of course, though it’s certain that the Viola v Carter element of yesterday’s proceedings was much more entertaining for the jurors.

The sparring that began on Friday very much continued. Along the way, according to Rolling Stone, Carter accused Viola of “playing lawyer tricks” and “playing word games”, and at one point turned to the judge and asked, “is this even allowed?”

During one particularly testy exchange Carter, who reckoned emails gathered by the plaintiff’s side proved his point, declared: “Pull them up, you have all the emails – when they suit you, you’ve been pulling them up, and when they don’t, you play your little lawyer tricks”.

Elsewhere, Viola asked – if, as Carter had claimed during Spiro’s questions, Parlux had made spin-off products without the rapper’s specific approval – why didn’t he sue the company for something like trademark infringement.

Carter has actually sued the perfume firm for allegedly unpaid royalties, but that litigation came after Parlux went legal in 2016. Why not go legal sooner if Parlux was “going rouge”? “I don’t typically sue people”, Carter stated. “But in this case, I’ll make a special example. And I hope you’re the lawyer”.

As do we all, given how entertaining the Viola/Carter sparring has proven to be. Indeed, once this legal battle is over, maybe the rapper could get the lawyer to guest on a track. In the meantime, the case continues.