UPDATED: Kanye West took a break from his presidential campaign to make some declarations about his music career Monday, saying that he will refuse to release any new music until his record company, Universal Music Group, and his publisher, Sony/ATV Music Publishing, free him from their deals.
He quickly followed that up by saying that Drake and J. Cole must apologize to him — although whether this was a further condition for releasing new music was unclear — and asking for a meeting with Jay-Z.
“I’m not putting no more music out till I’m done with my contract with Sony and Universal,” he tweeted. “On God … in Jesus name … come and get me.” The statement was followed by an emoji of a skier.
“Vivendi family I’m in Calabassas,” he added. “Come holla at me.”
On Tuesday morning, he added to his comments, posting a text exchange with an unidentified business adviser on his options for his catalog. The adviser says he and West can argue that Universal and Sony Music, with whom West has longstanding recorded-music and publishing deals respectively, did not support him fully and can be sued for breach of contract. They then explore the potential price of his recorded-music catalog (the adviser claims, without citing evidence, that West’s catalog would be worth more than the $300 million that Scooter Braun’s investment company paid for Big Machine Records and Taylor Swift’s master recordings) or the possibility of a joint venture with Universal Music, which owns West’s masters. West tweeted, “No one from Universal or Sony has responded so it’s Go time.”
West has publicly stated that he wants to get out of his label and publishing deals in the past, and even sued the companies in January of last year. However he signed the deals with attorneys present, and such contracts typically do not allow artists to withdraw from the deals whenever they want, so his options would seem limited. Reps for Universal and Sony did not immediately respond to Variety‘s requests for comment.
No one from Universal or Sony has responded so it’s Go time pic.twitter.com/k5K0c1t4eF
— ye (@kanyewest) September 15, 2020
Also in Monday night’s posts, West went after some of his contemporaries in the music world. “I need a publicly apology from J Cole and Drake to start with immediately … I’m Nat Turner … I’m fighting for us.” Later, he called himself “the new Moses.”
In a tweet that he later deleted, West wrote, “I’m the 2nd richest black man in America … I need all my people with me for us to get free.”
The initial tweetstorm invoked Jay-Z’s given name, with an apology for misspelling it: “I’m waiting to meet with Sean Carter also.” He quickly added, “My bad I meant Shawn … no disrespect to my big bro.”
Without going into detail on his agenda, West further invoked God and alluded to his disputes with fellow Black titans in the music industry. “I’m not industry bro … I don’t care… I’m in service to Christ … we need world healing … I miss my brothers… I refuse to argue with black men on labels we don’t own… even twitter.”
“I have the utmost respect for all brothers … we need to link and respect each other… no more dissing each other on labels we don’t own.”
“I’m sure Steve Stoute was hurt that he didn’t do the McDonald’s deal … Steve’s a good man Trav is a good man … my brothers let’s rise up … we don’t even own these companies.”
“Let’s stop killing each other … let’s show God that we are Gods people … my ego gets the best of me too… God doesn’t measure us by money in his kingdom … let’s love each other… I love my brothers and I miss my friends … real talk.”
The rapper-producer seemed to have second thoughts about identifying himself as “the second richest black man in America.” He soon tweeted: “I deleted that tweet about riches… the wealth is in our love of family and our brothers and our service to God … let’s rise up… let’s communicate.”
Eventually, he wrote: “I need to see everybody’s contracts at Universal and Sony … I’m not gonna watch my people be enslaved … I’m putting my life on the line for my people … The music industry and the NBA are modern day slave ships I’m the new Moses.”
The exact trigger for West’s upset remained elusive at this point in what may continue to be an ongoing tweetstorm. West has famously had issues with Sony/ATV, which owns EMI Publishing, the company that holds his catalog. West and the companies were reported to have settled out of court in January. He remains listed on Sony/ATV’s roster.
West seems to be expressing having an issue regarding Travis Scott’s deal with McDonald’s for a “Travis Scott meal.” Wrote Pitchfork on Sunday: “Perhaps the most insidious thing Travis Scott has stolen from Kanye West is the desire to be forever recognized by classic American institutions and corporations.”
West’s issues with Stoute — apart from McDonald’s deals — became clearer when he tweeted an image of a headline in which the music exec said, “I don’t want anybody Black running around voting for Kanye West.” West followed that by writing: “Steve Stoute is a good man … this is my brother … I’m disappointed with a lot of his recent decisions but Steve is my brother… I understand bro,and I’m here for life.”
In June and July, West teased a supposedly imminent album, first called “God’s Country” and then “Donda,” to be named after his late mother. He even released an apparent track list days before the would-be July 24 date, which came and went with no explanation. He subsequently released an apparent cover for the album but did not set a new date or further tweet about the MIA album.
West has recently released exclusively gospel-oriented music, with both “Jesus Is King” and “Jesus Is Born” coming out in 2019. In August, the two albums earned him three nominations for Dove Awards from the Gospel Music Association.
The star has not lacked for other recent controversies prior to his latest social media fusillade. Underscoring his status as a polarizing figure in politics, West had tweeted “THANK YOU CANDACE OWENS” to fellow Black conservative Owens earlier in the week, sending out a recommendation for the right-wing figurehead’s new book, “Blackout: How Black America Can Make Its Second Escape From the Democrat Plantation.”
His foundering presidential campaign has failed to get on the ballot in most states, with a judge ruling last week that it had failed to meet the deadline in the battleground state of Wisconsin. West’s campaign has come under fire from Democrats for using Republican operatives in its measures to get on state ballots, creating a suspicion that his candidacy is really an attempt by the avowed friend of Donald Trump and MAGA supporter to peel votes away from Joe Biden.