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Jay-Z Slams ‘Lawyer Tricks’ in Perfume Trial as Testimony Intensifies

Jay-Z and a lawyer for the fragrance company Parlux continued to spar in court on Monday over whether or not the rapper fulfilled his obligations around Jay-Z Gold perfume.

There was hardly a single issue on which lawyer Anthony Viola and Jay-Z, whose real name is Shawn Carter, could find agreement. Carter, brow furrowed and masked up, accused Parlux’s attorney of “playing lawyer tricks” and “word games” multiple times. At one point, the rapper even turned to the judge and warned him to beware of Viola’s tactics.

Viola was in hammer mode. In one typical exchange, the attorney kept asking the rapper if he had received physical samples of the perfume; Carter kept rebuffing his queries. That led Viola to quote from the rapper’s 2019 deposition. “You gave an answer to me under oath two years ago and you’re changing your testimony today,” he said.

“You want the facts or you want to talk about the deposition?” Carter replied. 

“The facts are the deposition,” Viola retorted. “That’s your testimony.”

The lawyer later added, “I’m not gonna argue with you anymore. The facts are the facts. You’re the one who’s changing your testimony, and I’m entitled to tell the jury [that].”

The combative question-and-answer situation led the judge to intervene on several occasions as a sort of translator for Viola, re-wording the lawyer’s questions and feeding them to Carter. “We’re gonna be here all day,” the rapper complained.

During a softball redirect, Carter’s lawyer asked the rapper if he had reviewed the facts of the case before his deposition in the same manner as he had prepared for the actual trial. Carter said he had not. “These sort of shakedowns happen all the time,” the star claimed, noting that he did not expect the case to make it to court.

“Were you trying to make Gold Jay-Z a failure?” Carter’s lawyer asked him.

“Absolutely not,” Carter replied. “I’m not gonna cut off my nose to spite my face,” he added.

The rapper was also given the opportunity to tell the jury about his business prowess and to explain how much time and energy it takes to prepare for tours, which he described as a grueling process — including memorizing lyrics from more than a dozen albums — which might have kept him from promoting his perfume. Carter’s lawyer compared tour prep to Lebron James getting ready for the NBA finals.

Parlux filed a breach of contract suit against Carter in 2016, claiming he had earned $2 million in royalties but the company had lost $18 million in the collaboration. In a sworn statement the following year, Parlux alleged that the rapper was supposed to do a series of events to push Gold, but he “never once personally appeared.” Carter subsequently countersued.

The rapper has had a busy few days. On Friday, he spent a full day answering — and often, parrying — Viola’s questions in court. On Saturday night he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame by both President Barack Obama and Dave Chappelle before returning to New York City today. 

“Hopefully [I’m showing the] next generation that anything is possible,” Jay-Z said during the induction ceremony. “I don’t know what’s next. In fact, I do know what’s next. I have to go to court.”

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