The mother of an up-and-coming rapper from North Carolina has filed a wrongful death suit against Sony Music claiming the company allowed her son to die of a drug overdose just four days after his 17th birthday, new court papers show.
Tobias Johnson – who went by the stage name “SauxePaxk TB” – was found unresponsive in a Houston, Texas hotel suite on Nov. 6, 2020 by his manager, who was sharing the room with him, according to the Manhattan Supreme Court lawsuit.
Mom Kenyetta Hardy, who is suing Sony Music Entertainment – and other labels Records Label, LLC and No Stress Entertainment LLC – claims she had voiced concerns about her son’s wellbeing after seeing photos of him on social media using drugs and appearing high, her filing from Friday states.
Hardy even suggested that her son — who went viral earlier this year on TikTok with his song “Ballin” — “take a break and spend some time at home” — and asked the label if he “needed any help,” the court papers allege. .
But Hardy was assured by No Stress Entertainment that it would keep him safe and away from drugs, the suit claims.
Photos posted the night before his death, however, show that the record labels “had taken Tobias out to celebrate his 17th birthday.” The pictures “show him under the influence of the illicit drugs later found during his autopsy,” the court papers say, including screenshots of social media photos.
The young rapper went on a two-day “drug binge” that ended with his death from an overdose of opioids and other prescription drugs. His manager at No Stress Entertainment was asleep in the same suite at the time, the suit alleges.
For two days, the labels “gave Tobias access to illicit drugs, watched him consume those illicit drugs, and then watched those illicit drugs kill him,” the suit charges.
The drug binge started in Atlanta, Georgia and continued in Houston, Texas on Nov. 5, 2020, the court papers say.
The rising star had complained about severe stomach pains around 11pm the night before – or just 12 hours before his death – but no one did anything about it, the suit claims.
Johnson had fentanyl, amphetamine, Xanax, oxycodone and tramadol in his system, the suit says, citing an autopsy report.
Hardy claims that the labels were contractually obligated to act as her son’s chaperone under the terms of his contracts – especially since she could not afford to go on the road with the teenager, the court papers say.
“Mrs. Hardy trusted that defendants’ No Stress and Records / Sony’s goals were aligned with her own — that Tobias’s health, safety, and welfare was the top priority,” the court papers charge. “Mrs. Hardy trusted that, if nothing else, defendants No Stress and Records / Sony had an interest in protecting their business asset.”
“She must now live the rest of her days knowing her trust was misplaced,” the suit adds.
The labels failed to keep him safe and away from drugs and in fact “encouraged” the drug use as part of the “culture,” the filing claims.
Hardy claims the companies treated him “as a commodity rather than as a human being.”
Hardy initially filed suit in Georgia in 2021 and still has a separate lawsuit pending against No Stress Entertainment there. But Hardy had to refile her claims against Sony in New York since that’s where the company is based, her lawyer Larry Taylor told The Post.
“We have seen a grueling number of actors and entertainers fall prey to these drugs and the fact that you have this young man in this industry not protected, is of grave concern,” Taylor said. “It costs a young man his life and it costs a mother her son.”
Taylor said the labels should have had “more oversight” of Johnson.
“They knew or should have known of his behavior and there should have been something done to stop it,” Taylor said.
Sony did not immediately return a request for comment. No Stress could not be reached for comment.