Kanye West is claiming that his contract with record label EMI is the equivalent of servitude, and he wants to be “set free from its bonds.” The rapper has filed a lawsuit against the record company that helped launch him to fame, saying that the contract has no time limit and could theoretically apply for the rest of his life, amounting to a sort of modern servitude.
According to TMZ, West filed two separate lawsuits this week using the firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan. Documents related to the rapper’s lawsuits against EMI and Roc-A-Fella Records say that he is required to provide a certain number of songs regardless of how long they take to deliver. That means West could be under contract indefinitely if he doesn’t provide all of the songs.
But according to California law, West’s lawyers argue, service contracts can’t extend beyond seven years or they are essential servitude. West wants a “declaration of rights” and an undisclosed amount of cash as part of his suit.
West also wants a judge to sever his EMI contract as of 2010, seven years after he signed with the label, which would revert all of the songs that he delivered after that time back to him. That means his massive hits like “All of the Lights,” “Power,” and “Monster” from My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy would no longer belong to the label, but to West.
The lawsuits state that West has written 200 songs between 2003 and 2011, which is when his breakout album, College Dropout, hit the airwaves, with EMI holding the rights. West says that he attempted to buy out his contract last year, but was rebuffed.
In October, shortly after deactivating his social media accounts, he returned to tweet that he wanted out of his contract.
“I got the money. So, big Jon, Marty, whoever is involved, I need my publishing. I got the money,” Kanye said. “I’m not gonna say the S-word. I’m not Prince; I don’t need to write it on my face.”
Prince wrote “slave” on his face in protest of Warner Bros. He considered record label contracts a form of slavery. pic.twitter.com/UteRj7y288— L E F T (@LeftSentThis) April 21, 2016
Last week, as news of the lawsuits broke, rumors swirled that the rapper refused to release new music because of his conflict with the record label.
“The Blast article has the unredacted complaint but it’s not a new lawsuit. It’s the unredacted version of the previous filing. Also there’s another inaccurate portion about him holding up the ninth album. That’s not in the complaint and untrue,” Kanye reps said.
Roc-A-Fella was founded by Jay-Z, Kareem Burke, and Damon Dash in 1995, but they sold their majority share to Island Def Jam in 2004.