Did Arty reach out to you after the article ran?
No. We were going back and forth with the courts and we weren’t getting paperwork done at the time. The guys knew that I was in a kind of bad situation dealing with him, so I didn’t have my own attorney and I had no way of getting one, so Egon took his own savings and got me an attorney.
Egon from Stones Throw Records?
Yes. He paid with his savings and got me an attorney. He got somebody who was really good, because he knew that I was up against somebody that was fighting against me. He said, “It’s not right, Ma.” He said, “That’s your son and you should be represented well.”
What did the new attorney do for you?
They did a tribute, it was a radio show and Red Bull helped sponsor that one and they wanted to raise some funds to help me out. And they called me a couple days before and they were like, 'Ma, we’re having trouble. We’re getting cease and desist letters and everything about not doing the show, not doing this and we can’t sell T-shirts, we can’t give you anything.'
He requested paperwork. Remember there was a campaign out in Billboard magazine? It said not to send any donations my way, not to allow anything to happen. And when people were trying to do tributes, they were trying to block them. I remember one in particular was in D.C. and was myself, Pete Rock, and Talib Kweli, I believe.
They did a tribute, it was a radio show and Red Bull helped sponsor that one and they wanted to do something special to raise some funds to help me out. And they called me a couple days before—I’m ready to go, I’d been booked and everything—and they were like, “Ma, we’re having trouble. We’re getting cease and desist letters and everything about not doing the show, not doing this and we can’t sell T-shirts, we can’t give you anything and all kinds of stuff.”
I’m like, “What?” I’m like, ‘Where’s this coming from?’ Because they never reached out to me to tell me anything.
But things changed with the new legal team?
Our new attorneys had our interests at heart. They went all the way back to day one, because they said the amounts that he owed IRS and whatever [didn’t make sense.] I had a dispute about it because I remember when he moved to Huntington Woods [Michigan], his taxes were a surplus.
He had like maybe $32,000 or $36,000 credit on his taxes, so how did he go from that—and you’re already beginning to be sick and making less or doing less projects—to owing so much and your big heyday is already gone? So how do you go from that to almost $500,000?
They said that he owed half a million dollars in taxes?
Yes. And then by the time they got everything together and they claimed it was $700,000. I’m thinking, “This is impossible, because he never did his own accounting, he always had accounting firms.”
Something didn’t seem right?
Something was wrong. Cause we know he started with the surplus. There was nothing said about owing taxes when he was with [another firm] and then all of a sudden, he owes all this money in taxes.
So was it that his taxes weren’t being paid on his behalf? Is that what you believe?
That’s where it started backing up. And then also he had corporate taxes, you know, because when he did the Pay Jay [album], that was a corporation and it was corporate taxes for that.
Is this something that your new attorney discovered?
Yes. So all these things had to be straightened out. All the paperwork had to be sent back and then go through the courts and everything. Arty got sick of it too. Just like we were so tired of so much showing up and it just had to be straightened out.
I guess Arty got tired of it and he said he was stepping down—he didn’t need to be the executive. Dilla had left him as an executor because he thought that his finances were being handled.
Then [Dilla’s former attorney and estate executor] Micheline [Levine] was the second executor because she was his attorney, and he felt that she would follow up on things and follow suit with what he had wanted done. I was the third executor and the reason that that was third, the real reason, as he explained—I didn’t want to hear any of this while he was in the hospital—but the reason that I would take over if something happened Micheline or either worked with her or take over was because he didn’t want me to deal with any friction from the baby’s mamas.
Did Micheline also step down as executor too?
Yes. When Arty stepped down, she stepped down.
What year did that happen?
That had to be two years now.
So in 2010?
People that I thought were moving forward for me and getting things tied up could care less if it ever got tied up. They were good with where it was at because they could handle things in their own time.
Yes. We started tying up ends in the spring of last year. They went through every year, had to go back every year since he first started making beats in order to calculate and make everything. Cause what I brought to their attention was that not only did he not make the amount of money to get those kind of taxes—a lot of it was probably for taxes that were not paid after monies were added on, but I let them know about the surplus.
We would get the receipts in the mail, the stubs, and at that time he still had good money coming from ASCAP and every check would be a few grand, but when his taxes started falling behind—maybe it was 2003—when they started adding up as falling behind, that money was direct to IRS.
So what did he actually owe in taxes?
Well I don’t have the end result, round figure, because they were working on the last two years in the summer…I haven’t heard anything. [But] I’m pretty sure that it’ll be something good.
No, not even a minute amount of that. The only thing to worry about would be still pending medical expenses. But just the revenue from any mechanical royalties or any beats that were sold or licensed over the past years up until his passing or even after, none of the family or anybody has gotten a dime.
So you still haven’t gotten the money?
Oh no. But the process is…I don’t care if I don’t, as long as everything is smooth and fresh—and that’s where we’re at now. We’re moving forward now and we had hoped to be free and clear by the end of the summer, but you know how things go. It’ll be like, “Yay!” So excited.