Jay-Z said it best on the 4:44 standout album cut when he rapped, “Nobody wins when the family feuds.” However, it looks like he’s going through that ordeal in real-life once again now that reports are saying the Brooklyn rap vet is suing Jonathan Mannion, former friend (?) and photographer of his debut album, Reasonable Doubt.
As TMZ reports, Hov issued a lawsuit on Mannion’s company, Jonathan Mannion Photography LLC, with claims that he’s been exploiting images of the Roc Nation head honcho without proper consent. Documents that TMZ was able to get hands on state Jay is highly upset that Mannion has his name and likeness posted throughout his website and sells original Jay-Z photos for thousands of dollars. For reference, a flick that Mannion took of Jay on August 7, 1998 titled “Chess Not Checkers” is currently available on his site for $1,500 USD if you want it as a 7.5 x 18 and a whopping $17,500.00 USD if you want it in the much bigger resolution of 48 x 120.
Here’s How TMZ is breaking down the misunderstanding:
“Jay-Z says he never gave Mannion permission to do so — and he claims when he asked Mannion to quit using his image, the photog demanded tens of millions of dollars. Jay claims Mannion is making an “arrogant assumption that because he took those photographs, he can do with them as he pleases.”
Jay hired Mannion in 1996 to shoot the cover for “Reasonable Doubt.” Jay says Mannion took hundreds of pics and Roc-A-Fella Records used some of the photographs for his album covers and paid Mannion handsomely for those uses.
Jay-Z claims Mannion continues to prominently display Jay’s image on the landing page of his website, where he sells Jay-Z pics and merch.”
Jay even pulled the race card on Mannion, reportedly saying it’s “ironic that a photographer would treat the image of a formerly-unknown Black teenager, now wildly successful, as a piece of property to be squeezed for every dollar it can produce. It stops today.”
Here’s the thing: while Jay-Z has a great point about controlling his likeness, this whole ordeal seems more like a behind the scenes disagreement on how the images are planning to be used being that 2021 marks the 25th anniversary since Reasonable Doubt dropped. Mannion has many other subjects on his page that he’s selling pics of for equal pricing, including but not limited to late music icons Aaliyah, DMX and The Notorious B.I.G., so it’s not like Jay is that special for him to be doing all of this.
Suing seems a bit farfetched overall, but there may be other things at hand that aren’t public knowledge. We just hope these two legends in the game can come to terms and work it out for the sake of Reasonable Doubt‘s 25th anniversary and hip-hop fans in general.
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