Grammy-winning soul star Ashanti dumped her first music producer after becoming successful, a New York court has heard.
Ashanti is currently signed to the Murder Inc record label
Genard Parker claims he is due millions of dollars in royalties for work he did for the singer when she was 16.
"She has never paid him and, just as importantly, she has never thanked him," said his lawyer on Monday.
But Ashanti, now 24, denied Mr Parker had played an instrumental role in her career, calling praise she had once given him "a little bit of hype".
Mr Parker's lawyer, Jasmine Khalili, said his client was an established music producer when Ashanti Douglas approached him in 1996.
Back then, Ms Khalili said, the Long Islander was "just another teenage girl with a nice voice".
The court heard that Mr Parker helped Ashanti in his Bronx studio for eight months before allowing her to sign with Jive Records.
His lawyer said it was understood that he could produce two songs on her debut album and receive a $50,000 advance plus royalties.
Ashanti's first two albums sold more than six million copies.
On the witness stand, however, the singer played down Mr Parker's importance and the praise she gave him on a 1997 videotape made to promote her efforts to gain a recording contract.
"I was excited," she said. "I thought I was getting a record deal."
The case continues.