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“Lean Back” Rapper Now Says There Was Never A Final Agreement With Late Rapper’s Family In Breach Of Contract Case

Big Pun Fat Joe collageFat Joe is trying to worm his way out of a settlement agreement with the widow of his late protégé Big Pun just months after a judge closed their breach of contract case.

Fat Joe, who was born Joseph Cartagena, filed court docs Nov. 9 blasting Liza Rios’ attempt to enforce their settlement because he claimed Pun’s widow was trying to stick terms about recouping additional music profits in a deal that he never approved.

But in a letter to the judge, Rios’ lawyer said Joe agreed to the final deal terms in exchange for Rios’ OK to certain language in a press release they planned to issue about the case.

Now Fat Joe said that he, co-defendant Jelly’s Jams and Rios only made the original settlement deal “in principle,” and has balked at Big Pun’s widow’s demand that he sign over his rights to Pun’s “side artist agreements” – income from Big Pun being a featured artist on other rapper’s songs.

Big Pun’s widow sued the Fat Joe and music publisher Jelly’s Jams for breach of contract, alleging that Fat Joe reneged on a deal to split Pun’s music profits, and wanted his back royalties, advances and money from using his songs on TV and in movies.

Joey Crack and Jelly’s Jams later announced a settlement deal with Rios in court that stopped the case from going to trial. Although the details of the settlement were confidential, an expert testified in the case that Pun was underpaid by at least $2 million. A judge closed the case back in June, but the settlement remained in limbo because both sides had still been in negotiations.

Fat Joe said that since the judge threw out Rios’ breach of contract claims over the side artist agreements, there’s no way he’d agree to hand those rights over. Further, Joe said Rios never produced the actual proof that the side artist contracts even existed.

“It was never the intent or understanding of Defendant Cartagena that he would be assigning rights to contracts that were never presented to him,” Fat Joe’s lawyer said in court papers. “Further, this was never agreed upon in mediation.”

However, Rios’ lawyer, Lita Rosario, said in court papers that the widow and Joe did agree to a deal where he’d hand the side artist agreement rights over in exchange for Rios’ approval of a press release about the case, and had email proof. She filed a motion to reopen the case and asked the judge enforce the settlement as is. Rosario pointed out that Fat Joe’s codefendant Jelly’s Jams agreed to the final settlement, but they can’t move forward without Joey Crack.

But Joe fired back this week, claiming that he never agreed to a final settlement and asked the judge to toss it.

“To date, no evidence whatsoever has been provided or otherwise exists, that there was ever a final agreement between the parties,” Joe’s court papers state.

The judge has yet to rule on the case.


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