THE popular gossip site TMZ posted a headline in 2014 sure to draw readers around the world â€” a rapper affiliated with the celebrated Wu-Tang Clan had cut off his own penis.
Problem is, TMZ named the wrong rapper.
Marques Johnson, a rapper who performs under the name Andre Roxx, has now filed a libel suit against the Hollywood website, its parent Warner Brothers and other media outlets that quoted TMZ’s report.
TMZ ran a story in April 2014 saying that Johnson had cut off his penis and then jumped out of a window at a party in California in a suicide attempt, according to a lawsuit filed Wednesday in a US federal court in Delaware.
The website later in the day revised the story and said that the rapper in question was in fact Andre Johnson, who is also linked to the Wu-Tang Clan and goes by the stage name Christ Bearer, it said.
But the lawsuit said the damage was already done, with media around the world reporting the story and confusion reigning long afterward.
The lawsuit said the two rappers had little physical resemblance other than being African American and played down the similarities in their real and stage names.
Marques Johnson, who like his counterpart was only in the outer circle of the sprawling Wu-Tang Clan, said that his career had been on the upswing but that, at the time of the report, he was serving a 16-month prison sentence in Pennsylvania on charges he did not reveal.
“Plaintiff became aware of the story while watching a local news program in the day room of prison, and also heard it broadcast on a local radio station,” the lawsuit said.
Johnson, who is seeking an unspecified amount in damages, said he began to face threats and attacks in prison and has been mocked even after his release.
The rapper has made “thousands” of inquiries to schedule gigs but “was told many times during these calls that it was too ‘risky’ to book him for a venue because of the publicity,” the lawsuit said.
As for the rapper who actually did cut his penis, Andre Johnson said in an interview last year with VladTV that it was not completely severed and that, at the time, he was short on sleep, high on drugs and, without explanation, influenced by reading about monks.
In the interview, he said he wasn’t trying to commit suicide but confirmed that he put a knife to his genitals.
He voiced no regrets and boasted of a still active sex life.
“I might have made the biggest mistake ever in history, but I’m proud of that.” â€” AFP