04/13/1999 at 12:00 AM EDT

Rappers Ice Cube and Mack 10 backed out of deal to feature their likenesses on clothing and threatened their business partners with violence, a lawyer told jurors. Businessmen Chris Word and Charles Palmer accuse the rappers of breach of contract and are seeking unspecified damages over the Beverly Hills deal they say the musicians abandoned in 1997. "The defendants decided on their own they would breach the contract, break it," the businessmen's lawyer, David Wiggins, told jurors as the trial began this week. The rappers' lawyer, Irwin Evans, said the four men discussed starting a business but never entered into a partnership deal. He told jurors the dealings got off to a bad start when Word and Palmer forged Ice Cube's name on a lease agreement. An accountant for the rappers found the business had atrocious bookkeeping, Evans said.

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