Kanye West appears to be seeking control of his master recordings

“In the streaming world, master ownership is everything,” he tweeted.

Kanye West appears to be exploring ways of acquiring his own master recordings—and encouraging fellow rappers to do the same, per recent tweets made from his account.

On Monday (September 14), West posted a now-deleted tweet declaring he would not release music until he is freed from his contracts with Universal and Sony/ATV. In a separate post, which is still live, he also proclaimed himself “the new Moses” and the music industry and the NBA “modern day slave ships.”

In January 2019, West filed two lawsuits, one against EMI Music Publishing (which is owned by Sony/ATV), and the other against the Universal-owned Roc-a-Fella Records, Def Jam Records and Bravado. The lawsuit claimed that the EMI contract had no time limit, and called it tantamount to “servitude.” In December, EMI reopened the lawsuit, which was thought to have been settled. It was reportedly finally settled in January 2020.

In another tweet, he shared a screenshot of a text message exchange of what appears to be discussions on how to acquire his master recordings from both those labels. It ends with a statement from Ye: “I’m not open to any form of business with Universal and Sony.”

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West then continued the day after, asserting the need for “contracts in all industries” to be simplified, as “complicated contracts are how businesses, music companies and sports take advantage of talent.” In a separate tweet, he added, “In the streaming world master ownership is everything… that is the bulk of the income … in COVID artist need our masters … it’s more important than ever before.”

West also seemed to indicate his desire to rope other hip hop artists into this new crusade against the recording industry, saying he has J Cole’s number and is waiting to get in touch with Kendrick Lamar and Drake. “Ima go get our masters… for all artist… pray for me,” he wrote.

West also alluded to previous artist struggles for ownership of their own material, posting a photo of Prince with the word “slave” written on his cheek. The artist, who’d famously said in an interview that “if you don’t own your masters, your master owns you,” had made the public statement in the early ’90s following disagreements with his label Warner Bros.

West also remarked, “De La Soul can’t even get their music on iTunes,” referencing the veteran hip-hop group’s ongoing dispute with their record label and inability to get their legacy albums on streaming services.

West has recently been in the headlines for his attempts to get in the presidential ballot in various cities as part of his apparent 2020 presidential campaign. On the music front, in July he dropped the song “Donda” on what would have been his mother’s 71st birthday and appeared on Ty Dolla $ign’s song “Ego Death” alongside FKA twigs and Skrillex. He also released “Wash Us in the Blood” with Travis Scott, which is from the forthcoming album God’s Country.

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