Rap group Dru Hill has settled its legal battle with Island Records. The move from acrimony to harmony follows months of litigation and name-calling.
The settlement also comes on the heels of Island’s parent Polygram being accused of racial insensitivity by civil rights activist Rev. Jesse Jackson (Daily Variety, Nov. 12).
Sources said a component of the settlement included the band getting an improved recording contract with an ascending royalty rate, plus assurances of unwavering support from Polygram brass.
Jackson’s entry into the fray helped accelerate a settlement, according to sources.
The band had been trying to extricate itself from its recording pact, which boasted just one successful album, its debut, which has sold more than 1 million copies.
“We look forward to working again with Hiriam Hicks and Island Black Music to do what we do best — making great records,” the band offered in a statement. “The lawsuits were a big distraction. We are glad to put all that behind us.”
The litigation started when Dru Hill’s attorney Londell McMillan and band manager Keith Ingram were allegedly attacked in May by Hicks and his brother Joshua at a nightclub.
But the dispute wound up taking centerstage earlier this month when remarks made by Eric Kronfeld, prexy and chief operating officer of Polygram’s domestic music division, during a deposition in the lawsuit were made public.
Kronfeld’s disparaging remark about African-Americans incensed McMillan, who relayed it to Jackson.
Jackson attacked Polygram and as-serted “a pattern of race and sex exclusion” by the conglom — a claim that execs at the conglom deny.
Polygram chairman Alain Levy publicly apologized for Kronfeld’s remark, disciplined the exec by remov-ing him from the management board, and named Clarance Avant, Motown Records chairman, to the seat.
Jackson’s Rainbow/PUSH Coalition recently purchased $1,000 worth of stock in five of the big six music congloms in order to “give us a presence at stockholder meetings.”
Kronfeld, who oversees the conglom’s legal affairs and human resources arms, suggested in his deposi-tion, “If every African-American male in the United States was disqualified from pursuing a livelihood, in any way, shape or form, because of a criminal record, then there would be no, or virtually no, African-American employees in our society or in our industry.”
During discovery in the lawsuit, McMillan learned Joshua Hicks had an arrest record that included drug and assault charges. The disclosure of the criminal record precipitated McMillan’s question to Kronfeld.
The Dru Hill debacle is the latest dispute to put Polygram in the media crosshairs.
Last month, Island Records founder Chris Blackwell accused Polygram of interfering with the operation of the label. He resigned from Polygram’s management board a week later.