Hustle & Woe

Aspiring rap mogul Shyan Selah stands accused of fleecing Jimi Hendrix's best friend and his associates.

Baby's momma/Bring me drama But I ain't actin'/I'm just laughin' Life is sport/I'm the captain Of the team/Love to dream Then my actions/Bring the cream —Shyan Selah, "Hustla" Shyan Selah strides onto the stage of Pioneer Square's Contour Lounge and smiles. He wears a black designer baseball cap pulled low over his eyes, obscuring all but the lower half of his face—a broad grin that radiates charisma and confidence. It's a Michael Jordan smile, the kind that can sell a pair of sneakers. Once a talented athlete himself, Selah clasps the microphone stand and pauses to survey the crowd of roughly 30 people scattered throughout the small, dimly lit club. It's just a regular Wednesday-night performance in front of a few loyal fans, but those pearly whites say life at this moment is particularly sweet. Selah celebrated his 36th birthday the day before the show, and he shares with the audience a recent bit of good news. His talk-radio program, LIFE: The Shyan Selah Show, which debuted in November on Seattle's KKNW 1150 AM, has been selected for worldwide syndication as part of the Transformational Talk Radio network. What's more, Selah says he's putting the finishing touches on a deal to publish a book about his outlook on life and his ideas about incorporating community outreach into his rap career. "People I work with in this music business and outreach, they just come on and we talk about life and so forth," Selah says, describing his show for the Contour Lounge crowd. "I had a crazy dream a long time ago to do something cool and different." Different is certainly one way to describe Selah's approach to the music business. In addition to his foray into talk radio, he considers himself an activist, motivational speaker, and entrepreneur. According to his website, he is the creator of an "entertainment conglomerate" called Brave New World, with entities devoted to music, promotions, publishing, media, and youth. But for all his moneymaking endeavors, Selah says his true passion is community service and youth mentoring, which he performs under the auspices of The Brave Foundation, a charitable spinoff of the record label. "I'm in the business of inspiration," Selah says a week before the show during an interview at his home in Federal Way. "It's about choosing to get the most out of my life in the most positive way I can. That's really what my book is going to be about, and it's what my radio show is about." Back onstage at the Contour Lounge, Selah and his band, The Republic of Sound, launch into a song titled "Love." The lyrics are a mishmash of rap braggadocio and calls for enlightenment: "The flow priceless, they comparing me to Christ it's/Time to change, MCs in the game need a license/No more writing raps if they ain't categorized as timeless/You can no longer walk the street ignorant and mindless." The hook has a soulful feel, but the band—two guitarists, a bassist, a drummer, a DJ, and a backup singer—tends more toward rock than hip-hop. A wailing guitar solo and Selah's gravelly singing voice complete the genre-meld. After a few more songs, including an out-of-left-field cover of Kansas' "Dust in the Wind," Selah surrenders the stage for an hour to a handful of guest acts. When he returns, he sheds his leather jacket, revealing a chiseled frame and tattoos of the ankh and infinity symbols on the insides of his forearms. He introduces a new song by saying it was "birthed out of controversy," and, borrowing a phrase from Malcolm X, he adds, "Either you stand for something or you fall for everything." Appropriately enough, the singer's life has been beset by controversy in recent months, due to an irate group of former associates who say Selah got them to fall for quite a few things. The group—which includes former Brave New World investors, a Jimi Hendrix-related charity with which Selah was once affiliated, Selah's daughter's grandfather, and the scorned mother of another of his children—claims Selah has hoodwinked them in order to obtain several hundred thousand dollars over the past decade. Along the way, Selah has racked up nearly $50,000 in unpaid child support; had his company's Hummer repossessed; been evicted twice; played a part in a bungled multimillion-dollar real-estate development; and been dropped from a record-distribution deal less than a month after the contract was signed. In short, Selah is accused of being anything but the hip-hop hero with the heart of gold he makes himself out to be. Selah has countered the group's assault by threatening multimillion-dollar lawsuits and rallying his supporters. In his defense, he says his haters are bitter conspiracy theorists, out to ruin him just as his career is taking off. "The strange thing about life I'm learning right now," Selah says, "is you got people that smile in your face, they hug you when they see you, it's all love and blah blah blah. Then you get to a place where you end up learning they're somebody completely different. It's mind-blowing." The headquarters of the James Marshall Hendrix Foundation are located above a pizza parlor and a nail salon in a nondescript Renton strip mall. Jimi Hendrix's father Al established the organization in 1988 as a way to honor the legacy of the Seattle-born guitar god through humanitarian work. But as co-holders of the lucrative rights to Hendrix's name and likeness, over the years the Foundation has struggled to adhere to its stated mission, attracting more profiteers than volunteers. In 2006, a close childhood friend of Jimi's named Jimmy Williams assumed control of the Foundation. The 68-year-old Williams has light brown skin, a thin gray mustache, and a tendency to ramble, especially about his youth spent palling around Seattle's Leschi neighborhood with the skinny, dirt-poor kid who grew up to be a rock-and-roll icon. A retired office-machine repairman, Williams had zero experience running a nonprofit before he took the reins of the Hendrix Foundation. Seated in front of a mural of vintage Hendrix photos, Williams says his initial goals were to clean house and create at least one viable community-service initiative. By his own admission, he has been only marginally successful on either count. "I gotta be completely honest," Williams says. "The Foundation, it's had a bumpy road. We're just trying to survive at this point." Williams says he first met Selah in November 2006 and appointed him the Foundation's spokesman and Chief of Operations in June 2007. "He seemed like a nice young guy," Williams says. "Anybody who thought they could help us and were enthusiastic, I was willing to give it a try." Selah says he was between record deals at the time and looking for a way to use his promotional skills for a good cause. He was surprised to be offered a staff position so soon after coming on board. "Excuse the expression, but I didn't know shit about what they been doing or what the history was or what was up over there," Selah says. "I was just excited; I was a kid in the candy store, to be honest with you. There were a couple individuals that grew up with Jimi, and that was intriguing. I spent the first month, I would say, just getting to know who Jimi Hendrix was through them." Selah eventually asked Williams for permission to relocate the headquarters of Brave New World from his native Federal Way to the Foundation offices in Renton. Williams was happy to oblige, especially, he says, when Selah offered to pay $4,500 each month in rent, about half of the monthly total. Selah never signed a lease, Williams says, and he allowed the rapper to pay the first month and defer the next three. Selah recalls being eager to help the Foundation, but quickly realized he was in for a challenge. "I thought that I could do what I always do and go in and inspire people to get over it," he says. "That did not happen. I was met with a lot of resistance from within." At the heart of the conflict was Selah's idea to sell Hendrix T-shirts. In August 2007, Williams and Selah drew up a contract that described "a special friendship" between Brave New World and the Foundation that permitted Selah to use Jimi's likeness to "enhance the viability of the charitable role" of the Foundation. Williams also authored a message to potential investors explaining that Selah was in "good standing" with the organization, and had the authority to negotiate—but not authorize—deals on its behalf. Selah says he used his music-industry merch contacts to produce a small batch of shirts. The apparel was briefly stocked on the shelves of Target, Selah says, but it did not sell as well as anticipated, so his next move was to "go high-end" at department stores like Barney's. (After looking into Selah's claim that the department store once stocked the shirts, Target could neither confirm nor deny it due to a change in its record-keeping process.) "But right smack-dab in the middle of it, [Williams] just went off," Selah says, claiming he never profited from the shirt sales. "It was as if we never had a contract or an agreement. It just became something he got sour about, for what reasons we got no idea. We stopped all the campaigns, called everyone, said 'Stop, discontinue, this guy doesn't want to do business right now.' That really bothered me." Williams remembers it differently. "We never signed off on anything," he says angrily. "Then one day a friend of the Foundation e-mails me a picture of a shirt for sale on some website and says, 'This stuff is all over the Internet.' I said 'You've got to be kidding me.' I called Shyan immediately. I said, 'Take that crap down.' " The relationship between Selah and Williams was already on edge owing to a dispute about the rental agreement. Williams claims that after six months Selah had paid him next to nothing, except token contributions for utility bills, which Selah later alleged Williams kept for personal use. Williams issued Brave New World a "Notice to Relocate" on August 22, 2008. Selah moved out a few months later. He says his company "paid plenty" to use the building, noting that his people created the mural in the conference room and raised awareness about the organization by displaying Hendrix Foundation regalia during his concerts and speaking engagements. "We did banners and posters and all kinds of stuff at no cost to them, ever," Selah says. "It was very disappointing when that campaign stopped. I think that really would have been the thing that took the Hendrix Foundation to the next level." Selah's given name is Travis Dewayne Henry. The third of five brothers, Selah was born in Kentucky but raised in Federal Way, where he's been residing of late in a luxurious five-bedroom abode that overlooks Puget Sound. On a sunny Thursday afternoon in March, Selah holds court in an upstairs den, joined by an entourage that includes his publicist, personal manager, business manager, and mother Phyllis. Reclining in a plush leather chair, Selah wears jeans and a tight-fitting T-shirt that shows off his bulging biceps and neck muscles. A sturdy 5 feet 11 inches tall, he has the physique of an NFL running back. Not coincidentally, Selah's first ambition was to play professional football. He was an outstanding athlete at Federal Way High School, lettering in football, basketball, and track, but suffered a knee injury that hurt his college recruiting prospects. He eventually ended up at Central Washington University, playing running back alongside one of his older brothers and future NFL quarterback Jon Kitna on a team that won a share of the 1995 NAIA Division II national championship. Selah carried the ball 65 times for 228 yards and three touchdowns that season. "He was just a young pup and still earning his wings," recalls former Central Washington head coach Jeff Zenisek. "But both he and his brother were great kids who came from a great family. He was one of those kids who always had a smile on his face." That smile, however, was sometimes forced. "I was out of love with football," Selah says. "I'd moved on to music. I was already singing at parties and stuff like that." In 1996, he dropped out of college and moved to Los Angeles to pursue a music and acting career. It was during this period that he decided to adopt a stage name. "I'm a real spiritual cat," Selah says of his name, which he legally changed in 2001. "I love to meditate and pray and do stuff like that. It's really just some dreamy type of stuff. I dream a lot, and in one particular dream it showed every letter like: Shyan Selah. I just rolled with it." Selah returned to Washington in 2000 and devised a new model for hip-hop success. His strategy would be to build a fan base by performing and lecturing at churches, high schools, community colleges, and anywhere else that would have him. He says a minister named Stan Taylor inspired the idea. "He was the one who impressed upon me the importance of outreach," Selah says. "At the time I knew nothing about outreach or how it could integrate with entertainment at all, but he would take me around to these functions that were community-based, and kind of taught me the philosophy that building fans is about getting involved with your community." Darren "Scooter" Spencer teaches a class called "The Art of Hip-Hop" at the D.A.S.H. Center for the Arts in Tacoma's rough Hilltop neighborhood. He says that for the past four years, Selah has visited his classroom, encouraged the students to express themselves through music, and performed free of charge. "To take time and do that, it shows he has an interest in the kids," Spencer says. "It's not about him. It's to further what I'm teaching. It says a lot about a person and his character to take time out of his schedule to come and do that." In 2001, Washington Secretary of State records indicate that Selah incorporated Brave New World Entertainment LLC. That same year he signed a record deal with a Tacoma company called City Promotions, but ended up parting ways with them on unfriendly terms. In 2003, court records show, he sued the company and its CEO, Karl Chapman, for breach of contract, claiming he was owed, among other things, $3.5 million, a BMW, and "a legal team of experts" to help fight for custody of his daughter in Ohio. Chapman died before the case was dismissed without prejudice in 2003, and Selah was later evicted from a house in Tacoma formerly owned by one of Chapman's partners. Selah spent the next few years getting accustomed to the grind of being a professional, if only mildly successful, hip-hop mogul. "We did the outreach, we threw big parties, we were producing music," he says. "The rest of the work I was doing was mainly scrap work, going back and forth to L.A. where I could get TV or film work here and there. And of course picking up any touring." In addition to his regular Wednesday-night gigs at the Contour Lounge, Selah has performed locally at midsize clubs like Hell's Kitchen and El Corazon. Perhaps his most high-profile gig came in 2009 when he played the main stage at Hempfest. (Selah stumps for marijuana-law reform and industrial hemp, and played a show on 4/20 at El Corazon.) "I think Shyan is an incredible artist," says Jon Stockton, a former music executive with Bad Boy Entertainment and Def Jam. "And I say that not because I'm cool with him but because he's got so much potential. He's so versatile and he can spit it. He reminds me of Nas meets Lenny Kravitz meets D'Angelo. He's a fusion of so many styles." Selah has managed to get his music included on television and film soundtracks. His song "Hollywood Blvd" was featured on an episode of the show Numb3rs in May 2008, and he contributed tracks to the yet-to-be-released movies Sweetwater, a Hollywood production about Nat "Sweetwater" Clifton, the first black player to sign an NBA contract, and Pursuit of a Green Planet, a documentary about "hip-hop culture and its relationship to the green movement." Keith Tucker, director of Green Planet, organizes a nationwide series of "green dinners" in which a group of inner-city kids are served a free vegetarian or vegan meal. The first event was held in Seattle, and Tucker says Selah performed and was the emcee for the festivities. "I've had nothing but positive experiences working with Shyan," says Tucker. "We want to do things to help other people and create revenue, but at the same time, obviously, we're entrepreneurs too. " In 2006, around the time he joined the Hendrix Foundation, Selah met an insurance salesman named Don Bazemore Jr. The son of a prominent Seattle architect, Bazemore says he initially got involved with Selah because he wanted Brave New World to promote a band called Roundabout, featuring his teenage son on guitar. "I was managing my kid's rock band," Bazemore explains over the phone from his Seattle office. "[Selah] was somebody that was an industry person who could, hopefully, connect me with some people that could make a difference in their music career." At the same time, Bazemore was busy collaborating with his father, Don Sr., on a potentially lucrative real-estate development. The Bazemores owned approximately four acres of land in Burien on which they hoped to build a mix of condominiums and commercial space. The project was dubbed "Appletree Lane" after the fruit trees the developers envisioned lining a main pathway. Bazemore Sr., whose firm DB Associates has created dozens of similar buildings in the Seattle area, would design the building, while Jr. would handle the financing. Bazemore Jr. says he was "just casually talking about the project" when Selah mentioned that he happened to have a wealthy friend in the condo business who might be willing to help. "I just kind of was a dot-connector," Selah confirms. "Don is a friend who comes to me and wants to do this project. I say 'Oh, I know people in that world, I know people who do creative financing for projects like that.' " The man Selah had in mind was J. William "Bill" Oldenburg. A former vacuum-cleaner salesman, Oldenburg amassed a fortune thanks to some savvy—and, according to federal prosecutors, allegedly fraudulent—banking and business dealings. In 1989, Oldenburg was indicted in California for allegedly looting his Utah savings-and-loan company to pay off mounting debts at his San Francisco–based real-estate brokerage. The Justice Department charged that he conspired with three others to defraud the Utah bank of $26.5 million and caused its collapse. Two co-defendants pleaded guilty to lesser charges and testified against Oldenburg. But after a five-week trial, a jury found Oldenburg guilty of only one of seven charges—intending to deceive a bank examiner. A judge later overturned that conviction, citing lack of evidence. Oldenburg made national headlines during the trial when he claimed he was broke and required the services of a public defender, then spent several nights at one of San Francisco's most lavish hotels, racking up a $15,000 tab. In March 2007 Oldenburg was back in court, this time in Spokane. An Idaho couple sued Oldenburg and his partners at a business called Universal Online Inc., alleging fraud and breach of contract. The couple planned to add a hotel to their recreational lodge and paid Oldenburg $150,000 to secure financing for their development. The money Oldenburg promised to procure never materialized, and the couple went bankrupt. A judge awarded the husband and wife $18.2 million, to be paid by the president of Oldenburg's company, not Oldenburg himself. The Bazemores, however, say they knew nothing of Oldenburg's track record when they met him for lunch at the Edgewater Hotel in Seattle. "He was a pleasant salesman who was sort of theatrical in his appearance and presentation," Bazemore Sr. recalls. "He used his hands a lot and talked a blue streak. He seemed almost dramatic about his ability to perform. It wasn't a quiet conversation with a businessman. I felt he was a showman." Against the advice of his father, Bazemore Jr. paid Oldenburg $150,000 to round up investors for Appletree Lane. At the same time, Bazemore Jr. was investing heavily in Brave New World. He declines to specify how much money he fronted the company, but copies of promissory notes and a Brave New World "Investment Package" obtained by Seattle Weekly indicate that Bazemore Jr. pumped between $398,000 and $441,000 into Selah's operation between 2006 and 2008. (In some instances, the dollar amounts on the contracts appear to have been crossed out and written by hand; all the documents, however, bear the signatures of both Selah and Bazemore Jr.) In July 2007, Bazemore Jr. also co-signed on a loan for the purchase of a Hummer H2 for the company. Selah was also one of the people who offered to fund Appletree Lane, according to a "Memorandum of Understanding" dated April 17, 2008. The document, printed on Brave New World letterhead and signed by Selah, shows the record company promised to pay Bazemore Jr. $39,300 for two parcels of land in Burien. The document states that "upon closing of the construction loan," Brave New World would pay Bazemore Jr. $2 million, plus $157,000 already owed for his previous investments and the balance due on the Hummer. In addition, the company pledged to "set aside $500,000 in an escrow account" to sign Moneta, the band featuring Bazemore Jr.'s son, to a record deal. But the Bazemores say Selah and Brave New World did not hold up their end of the bargain. Nor did Oldenburg succeed in finding other investors. By the end of 2008, the national economy was in shambles and the Appletree Lane project was stuck in permanent limbo. "It was a tough, tough deal to put that kind of effort and money in and have it collapse because the market collapsed," Bazemore Jr. says. "We felt really awful, like everyone else who lost their shirt in real estate." Asked about the details of the contracts with Bazemore Jr. and the aborted Appletree Lane investment, Candice Richardson, Brave New World's publicist, says Selah cannot discuss the matter because of a nondisclosure agreement. According to Selah, Oldenburg now lives in San Francisco; multiple attempts to reach him for comment proved unsuccessful. Bazemore Jr. holds no grudge against Selah and Brave New World. "It would be very easy for me to say that he screwed me, he swindled me, he promised stuff he could never deliver," he says. "I could easily say that, but I choose not to. I know that they want to make good. I know they want to follow through on the investments. I'm their biggest cheerleader. I might have taken maybe too much risk, but entrepreneurs take risks. Looking back I wish I'd never taken the risk. But I did, and that's water under the bridge." The elder Bazemore is less forgiving. He believes Selah exaggerated his role with the Hendrix Foundation in order to make it seem as though he could access enough money to finance the condo deal. "He said he ran the Jimi Hendrix Foundation and controlled all the Hendrix music activities," Bazemore Sr. says. "He said that was the basic source of his funding. We found out later he never had any control of the Foundation, and he never had any control over buying and selling of [Hendrix's] music. That was all a fabrication." And according to another ex–Brave New World investor, it wasn't the last time Selah exploited his Hendrix ties in pursuit of a deal. In the summer of 2007, Selah says he had lined up 20 dates across Canada opening for a rapper named Classified. Selah had just finished recording his first full-length album, Brave New World, and he asked Charles Turbak, a former adviser to the Hendrix Foundation, to bankroll the tour. A commercial real-estate investor from Seattle now living in New York, Turbak remembers how Selah sold him. "He told me, 'I'm interested in humanitarian work and helping people—that's my passion; I wish I could do it full-time,' " Turbak recalls. "He really started keying in and saying the right things." According to Turbak, Selah also touted a distribution deal he'd signed recently with Universal Music Group and Bungalo Records. Turbak agreed to lend the singer $35,000. When they signed a contract, Turbak assumed the deal was done. Then, a few weeks later, Selah asked for an additional $250,000. "I admired him for thinking big, but I'm like, 'Whoa,' " Turbak says. "I had a meeting at the Sorrento Hotel with [Selah] and an older gentleman who was promoting himself as [a] mega-millionaire and showing me pictures of himself with Donald Trump. He's telling me how I should invest. My first thought was 'You're the millionaire at the table, why aren't you loaning him the money?' I got suspicious." Turbak says the man at the meeting was Bill Oldenburg. Turbak also found out later that he'd been misled. Craig MacMillan, Classified's manager, sent him an e-mail saying that Turbak had received "false info"—Selah was not actually scheduled to perform on any of the shows in Canada. (Turbak forwarded the e-mail dialogue to Seattle Weekly; MacMillan did not respond to messages requesting tour details.) Selah's publicist says Turbak's $35,000 went toward the release and promotion of the first single from the Brave New World album. "You have to establish the single so when he goes on tour he has a fan base," Richardson says. "There was a buy-in fee to finish out the tour. Turbak didn't provide that, so Shyan missed out on the opportunity." Bungalo CEO Paul Ring confirms that he signed Selah and Brave New World to a record deal in 2007, but claims that "it wound up being in default after 30 days because they didn't do what they were supposed to do. We never had a valid agreement. "Nothing was ever official," Ring says. "Out of dignity for them, I'd rather not get into the reasons why. There's just been too many promises to my company that didn't get fulfilled." Via e-mail, Richardson called Ring's comments "very curious," and offered to provide correspondence proving that a deal was in fact finalized. She did not, however, respond to a follow-up message from Seattle Weekly asking to see the evidence. Jim Parker jokes that he sometimes feels more like a roadie than a parent. A bald former truck driver with a stern face adorned by sideburns that connect to form a mustache, Parker has a 14-year-old daughter, Jasmine, who has her sights set on becoming the next Miley Cyrus. For dad, that means lugging sound equipment and chauffeuring the teenager to community theatres in the Federal Way area. A proud parent, Parker rattles off story after story about audiences Jasmine has floored with her precocious stage presence and powerful singing voice. Three years ago, Parker heard about a talent competition at the Commons Mall in Federal Way, in which the top prize would be a record deal. He encouraged Jasmine to try out. The pair arrived early on a Saturday morning, beating lines that would later include more than a hundred other aspiring teen idols. When it came time to pay a $20 registration fee, Parker made his check out to the Brave Foundation. After his debacle with the Hendrix Foundation, Selah decided it was time to create his own charity. On May 22, 2009, he registered The Brave Foundation as a nonprofit corporation with the Washington Secretary of State, listing "motivational speeches, workshops, seminars, events" as the group's activities and naming his parents and his Brave New World posse as the Board of Directors. Jasmine ended up being one of a dozen finalists in the talent search. With the others, she performed in a showcase at Todd Beamer High School in Federal Way. The competitors were judged not only on their performance, but by how many $10 tickets they could sell. Jasmine sold a whopping 151 tickets, 42 more than the runner-up. All the finalists were offered "development deals" with Brave New World, but as the overall winner Jasmine was also promised voice and songwriting lessons, a YouTube music video, and, according to Parker, "dinner with music-industry executives." Parker recalls that he and other parents were initially reluctant to sign the record contracts because they gave Brave New World exclusive rights to all the songs produced by the teen artists for two years. Parker had his attorney review the document, and after being informed that it did not oblige him to pay anything up front, he decided to sign, as did eight other parents. "I figure if it don't go well at the end of two years, we're done," Parker says. "If it does well, and it all comes together like they say it will, then we'll stay on with 'em." But after two more showcases, which required more ticket-selling by the teenagers, Parker says he's getting anxious. "Things haven't progressed the way we thought they would," he says. "But I understand this is something new, and new things have glitches. Other parents have complained that there's too much of a lull. If this continues, I'm going to start pushing for stuff she's supposed to be getting." The filming for the YouTube video began in late April, after an inquiry from Seattle Weekly about the talent-show prizes. Selah claims the money from the tickets wasn't even enough to cover the cost of putting on the events. He also says selling tickets "gives the kids an opportunity where they go out and talk to people they would otherwise never speak to. The idea is to get them out of their shells." Another "youth campaign" touted on the Brave Foundation website is the Lady Pumas, a youth soccer team from Federal Way. One of Selah's daughters plays on the team. The child's mother, Selah's ex-girlfriend Tiffani Lindstedt, says the rapper bought two sets of jerseys for the squad in 2009, a claim confirmed by Selah's publicist. The Brave Foundation website encourages visitors to "Donate Now to the Lady Pumas," providing links to a PayPal account, but Lindstedt says the team's primary mode of fund-raising is passing a tin can among parents and collecting quarters each time a player scores a goal. Yet Lindstedt says the soccer jerseys weren't purchased by the Brave Foundation, but by a company called BNW Youth LLC. According to the Washington Secretary of State, the for-profit company was established in September 2009 and became inactive in January of this year. In all, it is one of 13 different LLCs created by Selah since 2001. His initial company, Brave New World Records LLC, was dissolved in April 2002, and replaced by a string of businesses with variations on the names Brave New World and Shyan Selah, most with different registered agents and all but the newest batch becoming inactive after just a few years. Selah says Brave New World is a "mother company" and the other LLCs are (or, in most cases, were) separate entities devoted to specific aspects of the music business. "The idea is to eventually grow this thing into something," Selah says. "It's a bold model. It's how Warner Brothers was built." As for the soccer team, Selah's publicist says the singer saw the can of quarters being passed at his daughter's match and thought he'd help by setting up a way to solicit contributions online. "He tied it to the Brave Foundation 'cause that's what we're about, helping kids," Richardson says, adding that she's unsure how much cash has actually been raised for the team. While the Brave Foundation is a registered nonprofit in Washington, it has not been granted 501(c)(3) status with the IRS. Charities, according to IRS guidelines, have 27 months from the date they're established to apply for tax exemption. Selah's group has three months left to meet the federal deadline, which the singer says they intend to do. In the meantime, an IRS spokesman says charities like Selah's can accept donations and market themselves as tax-exempt, but if for some reason their application is rejected, the money they have been gifted will be subject to taxes. Seated next to her dad at a cafe in Federal Way, Jasmine Parker says the ticket-selling really did provide a much-needed confidence boost. She adds that she's made good friends through the program, and her only real desire is to get her songs recorded. "With everyone at Brave New World and all the other contestants, it kind of feels like we've become a family, and I like that," Jasmine says. "I don't expect much of anything [from them], but it would be cool if I could get my music out there. I'm not the kind of person to get my hopes up, though." On the morning of April 8, a judge ordered Selah to pay $1,500 in attorney's fees to Lindstedt, the latest chapter in a bitter custody dispute. When Selah left the courthouse in Federal Way, he discovered that Brave New World's Hummer had been repossessed. To cap things off, that same day his five-bedroom home was sold at a foreclosure auction. Neither Selah nor his publicist responded to questions about the rapper's tumultuous Friday. But interviews and court documents reveal that the day's events were years in the making. In the custody case, court documents show that Selah alleged that Lindstedt was unfit to care for their child because she is "an insulin-dependent diabetic" who suffers from "mood swings and volatile emotions." He pointed out that she had been evicted multiple times. He cited his sponsorship of the soccer team and his "13-plus professional years in the entertainment and outreach industries" as evidence that he deserves custody, adding that "as an advocate for youth and an activist of youth issues, I've always been involved in practicing what you preach." Lindstedt, in turn, claimed that Selah attended just two of his daughter's soccer matches last season, and stated that during the couple's 10-year relationship, "his career and business dealings came first, and when I heard about the people he would do business with and the problems with money being stolen or not returned, I was disgusted that somebody I had once believed in was hurting so many innocent people." She blamed her financial woes on Selah, and stated that when the couple shared a home "every bill" was registered in the name of his Brave New World entities and "nothing that I saw was ever put into his name." She also alleged that Selah improperly served her with court documents, resulting in a default judgment that allowed him to take custody of their child for three days, despite the fact that she had been the sole caretaker for the 8-year-old's entire life. The judge ultimately sided with Lind- stedt, awarding her attorney's fees, restoring her full custody rights, and reducing the amount of time Selah is allowed to spend with the child each week by five hours. Selah has appealed the ruling. "He said all these lies about me," Lindstedt says of the court battle. "I was so stressed out about it because he's so manipulative . . . It's scary. I was with him for 10 years and he was doing things like this the whole time and I didn't know." As for the house in Federal Way, it was built by Curtis Kitchen, a developer who played 14 games for the Sonics during the 1986–87 NBA season. Kitchen filed for bankruptcy in 2009. Among his assets, he listed the house in Federal Way, then valued at more than $1.1 million. Kitchen told the court in August 2010 that he had a "month-to-month tenant" in the house—Selah—who had stopped paying rent and would not vacate the premises. "My wife and I were in some financial stress and we worked out a deal with him," Kitchen says when reached by phone. "He had these documents showing he was going to get so many millions of dollars for ringtones over in Europe or something, but he never paid rent. He gives you the illusion he's doing stuff, but he's not doing anything." King County District Court documents show that in July 2010 Selah filed a restraining order against Angelique Kitchen, Curtis' wife. Selah claimed he had been "falsely induced" into signing the lease, and told the judge that after the bankruptcy filing, the house belonged to a trustee. Kitchen was harassing him, Selah claimed, and had no right to collect rent or make him leave. During a visit in March, Richardson told a reporter that Selah was in the process of remodeling the house. However, a representative of Regional Trustee Services confirmed that the property was sold at auction on April 8 to OneWest Bank for $609,000. Meanwhile, the Hummer was the same one that Bazemore Jr. co-signed for in 2007. Marcia Ellsworth, a Bellevue attorney who represented GMAC, the auto-loan company that financed the deal, says Brave New World stopped making the required $1,600-a-month payments in 2009, when they still owed more than $58,000 on the car. "[Selah] knew he wasn't making payments, and that we were looking for that car," Ellsworth says. "Most people, when they get to that point, they face the reality and work through it in a respectful and dignified way. With these guys, I'd get these dumb phone calls at off hours, saying—and this is one of my favorite lines of all time—'I'm supposed to call you and tell you I'm supposed to return the car. 'Bye.' " Ellsworth says her client gave up looking for the Hummer last year, and turned the case over to a collection agency. Then in early April, she received a call from Charles Turbak telling her precisely where and when she might find the vehicle. On April 8, Ellsworth had the car towed while Selah was in court. Turbak says he was prepared to move on with his life after he recovered his $35,000, until he found out he wasn't the only one who'd lost money dealing with Brave New World. "I chalked it up to, I got scammed by a really good con artist," Turbak says. "It doesn't do any good to get emotional about it. But then I got the call from Mike Williams." Mike Williams is the grandfather of Selah's other daughter, not with Lindstedt but from a previous relationship. Williams, who lives in Dayton, Ohio, explains in a phone interview that his daughter met Selah at Central Washington University. Williams says he started networking with Selah's antagonists because the rapper owes his daughter more than $49,000 in child support, providing access to his daughter's Department of Social and Health Services online account as proof. Williams organized an e-mail listserv that includes Jimmy Williams, Turbak, Lindstedt, and several other individuals. In addition to venting about their ordeals with Brave New World, the group has contacted the FBI and other authorities seeking—unsuccessfully thus far—criminal charges against Selah. "We are banding together," Mike Williams says. "People want him off the streets, all of us for different reasons . . . It's absolutely breathtaking that he's walking around and talking on the radio after what he's done." Selah has responded to the attacks by going on the legal offensive. On March 15, he fired off a cease-and-desist letter to his critics ordering them to stop their "malicious, vindictive, and vengeful attempt to slander, accuse, and destroy" him. Then on March 28, Selah served Jimmy Williams with court papers seeking $4 million in damages for, among other things, breach of contract, fraud, and defamation. Mike Williams, Turbak, and Lindstedt each received a similar document on March 29. In their case, Selah seeks $4,562,000 in damages on the grounds that the trio participated in a "civil conspiracy" to interfere with his business opportunities and defame him. In the court documents, Selah says his adversaries contacted his business associates and told them that Selah's "character is that of a fraudulent sociopath." "They're trying to slander me and stop things that I'm doing," Selah says defiantly. "They don't understand that they're not hurting me. I've been in this business since way before I met them. I'm going to be in it way long after I ever see them again." khamilton@seattleweekly.com

 
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