It’s been an overwhelming few weeks for Whitney Larkins. At the beginning of December, the Dallas resident filed a lawsuit against Dave Free, rapper Kendrick Lamar’s manager, for more than $1 million. The reason? She claims Free was trying to extort her for $10,000 cash to meet Lamar at his South Side Ballroom show in October. After several emails back and forth, Larkins was eventually banned from the Dallas show altogether.
The news first broke on TMZ after Larkins tweeted at the publication and its boss, Harvey Levin, several times. From there, media outlets all over the country and world began picking it up. Larkins found herself upset at certain things being said, as she claims much of the information being thrown around was incorrect.
“It’s tough being a female fan of a rapper because I remember I heard, after the story broke on TMZ, there was one particular radio show [The Breakfast Club] and the DJ was like, ‘Why didn’t she just go to the show and offer fellatio like any other woman does when she wants to meet a rapper?’ It was horrible," she says. "So there’s an element of misogyny because, ‘Oh, she’s a woman and she wants to meet Kendrick Lamar, so she’s probably a groupie or probably crazy.’”
In the lawsuit, she states that Free, the president of Lamar's record label, Top Dawg Entertainment, participated in “immoral, unethical, shady and downright DIRTY dealings.” However, some might wonder if immoral behavior is grounds for suing.
“Well perhaps I was a bit verbose when I was writing for parts of the lawsuit, but there are different clauses of unconscionability that are forcible by law. That’s something that is a very important factor in this whole case is, is it unconscionable to make the promise to someone that they’re going to get a chance to meet an artist when there’s possibly hundreds of other people that are going to do the exact same thing and you still haven’t been given the information that you deserved when you bought the ticket in the first place," she says. "So there’s a lot of things to keep in mind when it comes to that and maybe I used too many adjectives, but there’s definitely a solid legal basis for this lawsuit. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have filed it.”
Rewind to October 14 when Larkins bought her Kendrick Lamar meet-and-greet ticket from Ticketfly. The information from the promoter, CID Entertainment, said participants would receive meet-and-greet instructions about one week prior to the event.
Wanting more time with Lamar than just a standard meet and greet, Larkins reached out to Lamar’s manager, Dave Free, the following day, October 15, to ask for no more than three minutes of one-on-one time with the rapper. Free responded after a week and a half, Larkins says, and told her that kind of meet and greet would be $10,000 cash.
However, by the time Larkins had heard back from Free, she still had not received instructions for the already-paid-for meet and greet, which was scheduled to take place the night of the show on October 29.
“I got closer and closer to the show and never got the [meet-and-greet] instructions. And then when I finally heard something back, I didn’t hear back from the promoter, I heard back from the label, saying I wasn’t going to get the instructions until a few hours before the show," she says. The email she received was from Top Dawg Entertainment. "And that kind of like ticked me off a little bit because I was supposed to get that information way sooner than that,” she adds. “Because think about it: Did the other fans get strung along as long as I did? Probably not.”
Kevin Appiah-Kubi, who attended the meet and greet, says he received similar, though not identical, information. "CID Entertainment emailed me prior to the event," he explains. "They emailed me a week before saying details will be emailed the day before. I figured if I arrived early, I could figure things out." Similar information is available in the FAQ section of CID Entertainment's website for Lamar's tour. Having left it at that without further correspondence, Appiah-Kubi says he didn't see anything to take issue with. "No, I didn't think so," he says. "Minus the long line of people who were meeting-greeting with Kendrick, it was a great experience."
Requests for comment from Free, CID Entertainment and Top Dawg Entertainment have gone unanswered.
Larkins is representing herself in this lawsuit. While she says she doesn’t want to comment on whether she’s ever represented herself before, she feels like it puts her at a disadvantage, having some issues with the court clerks. But she says she wants to continue with the process on principle.
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"I was like, 'OK, this is what he’s asking for [$10,000], but he’s not telling me what I’m going to get in exchange for that," Larkins says of her response to the situation at the time. "Because there was no indication from the promoter about my original $350 purchase [and] what was going to happen, why would I think they would be serious about giving me an opportunity to talk to him for that much money? I’m like if you’re not responsible for $350, I don’t think you’re responsible for $10,000. You’re not telling me exactly what I’m going to get, you’re not telling me what time, you’re not telling me any of those things. He just said, 'Call my team, and bring $10,000 cash to the show.' I’m thinking, 'Are you crazy?' Who’s going to bring $10,000 cash to a rap concert? Who does that? Maybe drug dealers, I don’t know.”
But after everything Larkins has read about herself, she mostly wants Lamar to know he’s not being sued, just Free. In an attempt to clear up any confusion, she started her own blog, letters4kendrick.net, so she could have her own voice heard.
“I just decided to write these different blog entries to show I’m not crazy. I’m actually highly intelligent and I just thought it would be kind of fun to put my own thoughts out there, so hopefully Kendrick can read himself,” she says.