The Roots’ Black Thought and Questlove Sued By the Estate of Former Bassist

Stephanie Hubbard, the widow of former Roots bassist Leonard “Hub” Hubbard, is suing her late husband’s colleagues, alleging they violated federal RICO statutes in handling the band’s finances. Questlove and Black Thought are named in the lawsuit, along with manager Shawn Gee, Live Nation Entertainment and other business entities connected to the band over the years. A representative for Roots offered no comment.

Leonard Hubbard first joined Questlove and Black Thought in an early iteration of Roots, later called Square Roots. He remained with the group from 1992 until 2007, leaving following a diagnosis of blood cancer. Hubbard died as a result of cancer in 2021.

In court documents seen by Pitchfork, Hubbard’s estate claims that Grand Negaz Inc., the company established in 1993 to handle the band’s business, assigned the bassist a 17 percent stake, with Questlove and Black Thought each having rights. to 35 percent (vocalist Malik B also received 17 percent). The estate makes similar claims regarding additional entities established in 1999 and 2000 to handle the band’s publishing and touring.

The suit alleges that Black Thought and Questlove used their Roots business devices to organize other band-related ventures and personal matters. Meanwhile, Hubbard remained a shareholder in his original corporation. Although he was no longer active in Roots, the lawsuit alleges that Hubbard was not paid in accordance with the original agreement, and that money owed to Hubbard was used to finance other Roots-related projects.

Calling Questlove and Black Thought “the conspirators,” the lawsuit further claims that, in April 2013, the Roots transferred all of their assets, including those apparently owed to Hubbard, and without his knowledge, to a new company, Legendelphia. LLC. “The RICO Defendants illegally, while using organized crime activities…took money from the Deceased-Plaintiff, and harmed [his] music business,” the lawsuit reads in part. Accusations of “organized crime activities” include “counterfeiting, wire fraud, bank fraud, mail fraud, and criminal copyright infringement.”

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Stephanie Hubbard’s attorney, Luke Lucas, shared the following statement with Pitchfork:

I want people who create music together to take care of each other. Ms. Hubbard is the widow of a great musician and a Philadelphia native, an undisputed founding member of a great hip hop band. Fame should not deter the justice of those who made your success possible. There would probably be no Roots if there had been no Leonard Hubbard.

Leonard Hubbard had previously sued his former bandmates on similar grounds in 2016, alleging that he had not been adequately compensated as a co-founder of the band.

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