Nas’ Mass Appeal Sued for Racial Discrimination by Former White Employee

Mass Appeal, the record label/media company co-founded by Nas, is facing a racial discrimination lawsuit filed by a former employee who claims she was “targeted for termination simply because she was White.” 

The suit was filed by Melissa Cooper, who spent about two years working in development at Mass Appeal, first as a consultant from April 2021 to October 2022, then as Head of Development from October 2022 to June 2023, when she was fired. The lawsuit claims that she “was the target of a racist conspiracy… to damage Cooper’s reputation and trigger Cooper’s termination from Mass Appeal.” 

The lawsuit specifically singles out the actions of Jenya Meggs, Mass Appeal’s Senior Vice President for Partnerships and Acquisition, who is Black. The suit claims, “Meggs and her cohorts made venomous and racist comments about ‘White folk’ and ‘crackers,’ and bragged that they caused Cooper to shed ‘White tears.’”

Meggs is named as a co-defendant in the lawsuit, along with Mass Appeal and its CEO, Peter Bittenbender, who is white. A rep for Mass Appeal did not immediately return Rolling Stone’s request for comment. 

Cooper’s lawsuit is based largely on a trove of screenshots of alleged text message exchanges between Meggs and others, either Mass Appeal employees or people working on Mass Appeal-produced projects. In these exchanges, Meggs and others appear to make disparaging remarks about Cooper and other white people at Mass Appeal or working in hip-hop. 

The screenshots were provided to Cooper by Meggs’ self-described “jilted lover,” Michael Harris. According to the suit, Harris contacted Cooper and Bittenbender separately about Meggs’ alleged conduct this summer. Along with the text message screenshots, Harris allegedly told Cooper that Meggs had “conspired” with other Mass Appeal employees “to terminate Cooper’s employment.” 

Additionally, Harris shared details regarding a November 2022 mediation call between Cooper, Meggs, and a Mass Appeal human resources employee, Tana Session (the suit alleges that Meggs and Session were friends, and that Meggs referred Session for the job at Mass Appeal). The call (in which Bittenbender and Mass Appeal’s Chief Creative Officer, Sacha Jenkins, were also allegedly present) was prompted by an allegedly contentious meeting about a possible town hall-style event about gun violence and hip-hop prompted by the shooting death of Migos’ Takeoff. Cooper claimed she expressed “verbal support for the idea,” after which “Meggs verbally berated” her and claimed she “‘had no right to speak on it,’ in reference to the nexus of gun violence and Hip Hop.”

According to an email Harris sent to Cooper and others, prior to the HR call, Meggs and Session “had drafted their strategy and talking point… Jenya and Tana dismantled that woman and when Melissa was trying to make a point, Tana was ready with the predetermined counterpoint and shut her down. They brought that woman to tears and figuratively high fived each other on their private call after the meeting. Laughing about Melissa queued ‘the white tears.’” (Harris claimed he heard the call because Meggs “loved for me to hear her power moves and put those calls on speaker for her enjoyment.”)


In the suit, Cooper said she was told she was being terminated on June 16, with Bittenbender allegedly saying it was “because of the state of the industry” and “because the company had not ‘sold enough.’” The lawsuit notes that “no other individual of similar experience or rank at Mass Appeal was terminated.” 

After Cooper received the document dump from Harris, the suit claims she forwarded the information to Bittenbender, and the two spoke on the phone the following day. The suit alleges: “When Cooper told Bittenbender she was discriminated against by Meggs, Bittenbender responded by telling her, ‘I am sorry you had to read this but this isn’t illegal.’ Following the conversation, Bittenbender and Mass Appeal conducted no investigation into Melissa’s claims of racial discrimination.”