Kanye West Sues Universal, EMI Over Record Contracts, Song Publishing
Kanye West filed a pair of lawsuits Friday against a number of high-profile record companies and music publishers, including Universal Music Group, Roc-A-Fella, Def Jam and the Sony/ATV-owned EMI Music Publishing.
The heavily redacted lawsuits were filed at Los Angeles Superior Court Friday, the Hollywood Reporter writes. While the exact nature of West’s lawsuits are unclear, it appears West is seeking both unspecified monetary damages from the record labels as well as a “transfer of property.”
In non-redacted portions, West’s legal team mentions “a dispute between the parties’ rights and obligations to one another under the Recording Agreement and Extensions.” In addition to West’s own work, the lawsuit also mentions songs West produced for Jay-Z’s 2001 LP The Blueprint, thus Roc-A-Fella’s inclusion in the lawsuit.
An UMG spokesperson declined to comment on the lawsuit. Sony, the parent company of EMI, did not immediately respond to request for comment, nor did West’s representative and lawyer. EMI has handled the publishing rights to West’s music since 2003, before the rapper released his debut The College Dropout.
In West’s “Mind Control” nine-minute social media rant in October, the rapper was candid about his attempts to reclaim his publishing.
“I went to go buy my publishing from Sony/ATV and they said, ‘It’s $8 million [or] $9 million’ and when I went to buy it, they told me ‘No,’ I couldn’t buy my publishing,” he said. “I have the money to buy [back] my publishing. And they told me that I couldn’t buy my publishing…. It’s like the control.”
West continued, invoking Prince’s own issues with Warner Music, “Sony ATV told me I couldn’t buy my publishing [but] I got the money. So Big Jon [Platt], Marty [Bandier]… whoever is involved… I need my publishing… I got the money. I’m not gonna say the ‘S’ word. I’m not Prince, I don’t need to write it on my face.” Warner/Chappell Music Publishing chief Jon Platt took over Sony/ATV from longtime CEO Marty Bandier in 2019.