In an update to lawsuits Kanye West filed on Friday seeking to get out of his deals with EMI Music Publishing and Roc-A-Fella Records, the artist has filed new legal documents in which he claims that his deal with EMI amounts to servitude and he should be “set free from its bonds,” according to TMZ.
The document claims that the deal he signed with EMI in 2003 does not specify a time limit, and thus is invalid; in California, personal services contracts cannot last longer than seven years, because they amount to “servitude.” Thus, he has asked the judge to terminate his EMI contract as of 2010, which would revert to him the rights to songs from his albums “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy,” “Yeezus,” “Life of Pablo,” “Ye,” his “Watch the Throne” collaboration with Jay-Z and “Kids See Ghosts” team-up with Kid Cudi, and multiple other singles and collaborations.
The Friday lawsuits were aginst EMI Music Publishing, which is now owned by Sony/ATV, and the Universal Music Group companies Roc-a-Fella Records (the formerly Jay-Z-owned record label that released his early albums), Def Jam Records and UMG’s merchandising arm, Bravado.
In a free-form rant posted online back in October, West said he’d tried to purchase his publishing catalog from Sony/ATV Music and they declined. “I have the money to buy [back] my publishing,” West says in the video. “And they told me that I couldn’t buy my publishing…. It’s like the control.” While the terms of his contract are not public, music publishing deals typically do not allow artists to simply buy back their publishing whenever they want. Friday’s lawsuits moved the situation at least one step beyond West’s social media accounts.
West seeks declaratory relief and alleges unjust enrichment on the part of the companies he is suing. Reps for West and the companies did not immediately respond to Variety’s requests for comment.