“I never really knew what kind of deal I was in throughout the whole time I was associated with 1501. I never received any statements or earnings.”
“They haven’t done right by me. It was like signing with the devil.”
“He didn’t give me nothing.”
These complaints about Carl Crawford and his label 1501 Certified Entertainment sound like they came out of the mouth of his now-disgruntled star signee Megan Thee Stallion, who is in the middle of suing him. Instead, they come from a number of former and current signees, who second many of Megan’s concerns.
Houston rapper HardyBoy Pigg was, he says, the first artist signed to 1501. And he tells a story common to many disgruntled artists. He was recruited by Crawford’s then-business partner T. Farris, who has deep connections in the H-Town rap scene. But shortly after signing, HardyBoy was locked up for three years. Crawford and the label, he says, “left me for dead the whole time I was in jail.”
After that, HardyBoy found himself in a familiar situation: his label wouldn’t release his music. “The same shit Megan went through, I was going through,” he remembers. “[Crawford] was really on some bully stuff.” He adds, “He didn’t give me nothing.”
He’s not the only one with issues. Rapper Haroldlujah, who tells Complex the 1501 label deal “was like signing with the devil,” also had a longstanding relationship with T. Farris. It was that relationship that convinced him to sign to 1501. And at first, things were fine. Farris brought Haroldlujah to a nice dinner with some of Houston’s major DJs, and even gave the rapper some money for expenses. But Crawford and Haroldlujah’s relationship soon became strained.
“You’re not expecting your CEO to get upset about a personal situation, and it affects the business,” Haroldlujah says now. “Based off that, he was not promoting me.”
“The same sh*t Megan went through, I was going through. [Carl Crawford] was really on some bully stuff.” - HardyBoy Pigg
As promotion went away, the money did too. Haroldlujah claims he wasn’t given an album budget, and that the label still owes him money. He also says he’s still signed to the label despite having no contact with either Crawford or Farris in over a year. He wants out.
“I've been hearing about a sit-down for three years. There's never been a sit-down. My thing is, just give me my release papers and we can move on. I held up my end of the contract.”
Rapper Psyco Sid, like Haroldlujah, was promised a budget ($25,000, in his case) that never materialized. But he doesn’t blame Crawford. He thinks that Megan’s rapid success just overwhelmed the label head, to the point where things became impossible to manage.
“Megan, she started heating up so fast,” he remembers. “I don’t feel like it was a matter of them refusing [to give me the money.] Carl just bit off more than he could chew at the time. I don’t see there being no ill will.”
“Just give me my release papers and we can move on. I held up my end of the contract.” - Haroldlujah
Sid ended up never actually signing a contract with 1501, because he didn’t like that Crawford’s deal called for a percentage of his merchandise earnings, regardless of whether the label paid to create the product. Sid, who had already spent his own money creating merch, balked at that.
Singer Railey Rose was introduced to 1501 in the winter of 2016, and, like almost every other artist we talked to, was brought in through T. Farris. For her, the whole situation was muddled from the beginning.
“They gave all of their artists diamond chains to state you were a part of 1501, but I physically never signed any contract with them,” she writes via email. “I never really knew what kind of deal I was in throughout the whole time I was associated with 1501.”
And that murky situation led, she says, to unfortunate business dealings.
“They distributed most of my music and I never received any statements or earnings. I never was given a true advance. Never was given any earnings from my music throughout the three years I was around. They paid for my hotels and travel when I was promoting my music in different cities but as far as anything else I was pretty much on my own.”
Not everyone involved with 1501 has had a Megan-like experience, though. Rapper D-Raww has been involved with the label since August, 2019, and he has nothing but good things to say. He says that Crawford is “always around me” and is constantly pushing his music. “He’s a solid and genuine person,” the young rapper tells Complex.
But most of the current and former 1501 artists who responded to Complex’s inquiries had a different point of view. And they were sympathetic to Megan’s struggles. (Complex also reached out to current 1501 signee K’ona Lisa, who Crawford recently has been praising in interviews. She did not respond).
Haroldlujah, who like many 1501 artists has unreleased music with Megan, has nothing but positive things to say about the Houston rapper. He recalls splitting a whole bottle of Hennessey with her in the studio. She has a “crazy” work ethic, he tells Complex, and she knows what she wants (“Of course she’s a diva,” he laughs.) But she also knows how to kick back.
“She has a real great personality,” he says. “She's spontaneous, she's funny, she really likes to laugh. She’s real cool.”
And his advice for his former labelmate?
“I’d tell her listen, just push even harder. It’s a bitter game. You just got to keep your head up and continue to focus on the music. Your career has just taken all the way off. You can't be down because of blocks in the road. You got bumps in the road. It's just a bump. You go over that bump and you move on.”