Kanye West’s Publishing Deal Looks Like Modern Day Slavery – But Slavery Is A Choice?


Grammy-winning rapper Kanye West is making headlines right now and it’s not for his Yeezy apparel or Twitter rants. Instead, a new report has surfaced about the former Roc-A-Fella Records star’s EMI publishing deal barring him from retiring.

According to reports, EMI’s contract forbids him from not working.

“You (Mr. West) hereby represent and warrant that to [EMI] that You will, throughout the Term as extended by this Modification, remain actively involved in writing, recording and producing Compositions and Major Label Albums, as Your principle occupation. At no time during the Term will you seek to retire as a songwriter, recording artist or producer or take any extended hiatus during which you are not actively pursuing Your musical career in the same basic manner as You have pursued such career to date. (The preceding representation shall not be deemed to prevent You from taking a vacation of limited duration.)” (The Hollywood Reporter)

West has argued in court about having worked his contract off from EMI going all the way back to 2003.

However, West’s contract with EMI (which is now owned by Sony/ATV Music Publishing) has been renewed several times, as noted in the lawsuit. His bid to be released from his publishing and recording deals revolves around a California law that limits personal-service contracts to no more than seven years. West claims that he’s been “laboring” for EMI since he first signed with the publisher in 2003. (Variety)

Reports claim multiple musicians have found themselves in similar situations but managed to settle contract disputes out of court.

West’s argument relies on a clause in California’s labor code that limits contracts for personal services to seven years at most. As Complex has pointed out, Courtney Love, 30 Seconds to Mars, and Rita Ora have all cited the law as grounds for terminating deals; all three acts ultimately settled their own lawsuits out of court. West, for his part, seeks ownership over any songs he wrote since 2010—a list that would include his albums from My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy onward. (SPIN)

Back in January, Ye sparked headlines after suing both Roc-A-Fella Records and EMI.

In court documents obtained by PEOPLE, the dispute between West and Roc-A-Fella is “regarding the parties’ rights and obligations to one another under the Recording Agreement and Extensions.” West is asking for “a judicial declaration of their rights under the Recording Agreement and Extensions.” The majority of the suit has been heavily redacted. (People)

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