Master tapes for Jay-Z's albums, Vol. 3…The Life and Times of S. Carter and The Dynasty: Roc La Familia, were kept in storage by the rapper's former engineer, Chauncey Mahan.
Los Angeles, CA (April 23, 2014)—A collection of Jay-Z’s master recordings that went missing in the early 2000s have turned up—as the center of an alleged extortion plot.
Recording engineer Chauncey Mahan, who worked with the rapper from 1998 to 2004, was found in possession of recordings for 1999's Vol. 3…The Life and Times of S. Carter and 2000's The Dynasty: Roc La Familia. Various news sources estimate the masters to be worth between $15 and $20 million.
TMZ initially broke the news, reporting that Mahan had contacted Live Nation, which is partnered with Jay-Z on Roc Nation, telling the company he wanted to either auction off the recordings or return them for a $100,000 “storage fee.” Mahan settled for $75,000 and agreed to meet on Friday, April 18, 2014 at a storage unit in Northridge, CA. When the engineer arrived there, however, LAPD confiscated the tapes. Reports say LAPD was tipped off on the location and meeting time by members of Jay-Z’s group.
Mahan was not arrested, TMZ reported, and the tapes will remain in possession of the LAPD until a judge determines ownership. Beverly Hills PD is also involved in the investigation of the extortion complaints, since that is where Live Nation is located. The NYPD is also involved since a grand larceny complaint was filed with them regarding the missing recordings, since the recordings originally went missing in New York.
Mahan has since said to TMZ that he told "Jay-Z's people" numerous times over the years that he had the tapes, but was met with indifference. Claiming he could no longer afford the storage unit where the tapes were kept, Mahan tried again, contacting Live Nation. Mahan's recording credits include engineering for The LOX, 112, LL Cool J, Super Cat, Funkmaster Flex and others, as well as involvement in the soundtracks to Jason's Lyric, New Jersey Drive and Whitney Houston's The Bodyguard.
On Twitter, longtime Jay-Z producer Just Blaze (@JustBlaze) responded to the news with an extended tirade against Mahan, accusing him of incompetence in the studio and rattling off a list of flaws in various recordings that he attributed to the engineer. Closing out, Blaze remarked, "Oh. And I have backups of just about all of those files Chauncey tried to extort for. Dummy."