Nas’ multimedia company is entangled in a lawsuit.
On Oct. 17, 2023, Mass Appeal was sued by Melissa Cooper, the company’s former head of development, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The lawsuit, which was filed in Manhattan, NY, claims that the white executive faced racial discrimination including “venomous and racist comments about ‘White folk’ and ‘crackers.’”
Following the alleged discriminatory comments, Cooper was fired from Mass Appeal in June 2023.
According to Cooper, the “hostile work environment” began in 2022. One of the alleged tense events was between her and Jenya Meggs, the defendant and senior vice president for partnerships and content acquisition at Mass Appeal.
Meggs — who is Black — is said to have been mainly discontent that Cooper is an executive producer of Hulu’s “Freaknik: The Wildest Party Never Told” — slated for 2024 — while she is not. Meggs allegedly described the move as “Usual white folk behavior” in a series of text messages with Terry Ross, who is an executive producer on “Freaknik” but not employed by Mass Appeal. Ross is also Black. What’s more, Cooper shared frustration in these texts that a candidate she referred to Mass Appeal was not hired.
The conflict between Meggs and Cooper further escalated when another recommended hire by Meggs was brought into the company.
“Specifically, the lawsuit claims Meggs pushed Mass Appeal to hire a friend of hers who is Black for a human resources position,” the outlet wrote. “That friend was later presented as ‘an unbiased mediator’ to broker a solution between Meggs and Cooper when tensions over various projects flared.”
The lawsuit also claims that Meggs stressed to Peter Bittenbender, Mass Appeal’s CEO, that she didn’t want to work with Cooper — resulting in Bittenbender removing Cooper from the company’s upcoming Hip Hop 50 Live concert at Yankee Stadium in New York.
“Cooper’s removal from this important project, along with others Meggs was staffed on, effectively stripped Cooper of her primary role at Mass Appeal,” the lawsuit details.
Cooper’s lawsuit has screenshots of the previously mentioned text messages as well as additional material “allegedly obtained by Cooper’s legal team.”
“The racial animosity reflected in the text messages is simply breathtaking,” Louis Pechman, Cooper’s lawyer, said.
While Nas is the co-founder of Mass Appeal, the outlet notes that he isn’t specifically listed as a defendant.