Rapper Starts Open-Letter Beef With Record Label

Jan 10th, 2007 // 7 Comments

raskass.jpgIn a lengthy (and grammatically iffy) missive on HHNLive.com, rapper Ras Kass presents a laundry list of complaints against Capitol Records, alleging mismanagement:

It seems to me and many others that since the year 2000 Capitol is either unable or unwilling to offer me an opportunity to (1) release and market my music and (2) thereby allow me to generate income for myself and the company. So the logical and fiscal thing to do would be to allow a third party capable of successfully translating my talent into profit, do just that. Instead I’ve been foiled in every attempt to either work within the confines of Capitol; when I’ve tried to find any amicable way of bringing in any interested third party I’ve been thwarted by egomaniacal executives who refuse to be the least bit reasonable in my efforts to work out a solution for all parties involved.

For six years EMI/Capitol has enforced a contract that they have breached time after time, paying attorneys thousand of dollars to bind me to a record deal that they themselves refuse to honor. I ask you, how is not allowing me to generate ANY income financially viable for their shareholders? How is not allowing me to work within or outside the company for six years morally justifiable? Now, after an entire decade, one third of my life, watching this label’s entire artists’ roster change at least five times over, I simply would like to ask why? Why are you doing this to me?

Among the more specific allegations:
- That Dr. Dre wouldn’t allow to a song he produced for Ras Kass to be released as a single.
- That Capitol tried to counter-sue him out of existence when he sued the label for breach of contract.
- That he is considered “one of the most prolific urban poets of our time.”

Ras Kass Releases Open Letter To Capitol Records [HHNLive.com]

  1. Mike Barthel

    See, this is why you need to get someone to edit your letters for you. It sounds like he has some pretty legitimate greivances, and this all does sound like standard industry bullshit–they didn’t think the album was gonna do well so they didn’t want to throw good money after bad and shelved it, when then gave him a reputation, and when he made a legal complaint they cluster-fucked him. But man, he sure sounds deluded when he lays it out this way. What does he mean by “third party”? Does he want them to bring in an outside marketer or to license him out to another label? It sounds like he really just wants to be released from his contract, but instead he has this whole “reasonable discussions” line.

    It’s all just a reminder that you really need to get a keyman clause when you sign with a major label so if the A&R who brought you in gets fired, you can terminate the deal. But man, he sounds genuinely shocked that a major label would be putting business concerns over ethical ones and that they wouldn’t take every legal recourse open to them to further their business interests. I mean, c’mon dude.

  2. Dickdogfood

    Oh, he’s probably not *that* naive. What he outlines may be run-of-the-mill nonsense for the record industry, yet it could also be sufficiently shocking and stupid to the HHNLive.com audience that it’ll generate enough anti-Capitol chatter amongst the internet to — I dunno — embarrass them into dropping him or something.

  3. Dickdogfood

    Also, the way he lays it out, I think it’s reasonable to wonder WHY it’s in Capitol’s best financial interests to keep him ensnared in a legal rigamarole rather just letting him go.

  4. musette

    It’s unfortunate that artists sign major deals without understanding the enormous potential that they will be parked rather than promoted.

    But, is that really the artist’s fault?

    The artist’s deal is only as good as the person who negotiated it for him. It takes years of experience to know what to include, what to exclude, and over what points to argue, and it differs client-by-client.

    So often, the advisors, lawyers, and/or managers who negotiate these deals are hobbyists who read and understand the words, but miss the import.

    I have been shocked by the naivete of very successful corporate lawyers who attempt to negotiate these deals with no prior experience, only to call after the fact to figure out how best to work within or without the deal.

    It’s sad that Ras Kass finds himself in this position. It’s also unfortunately typical. Still, I would not blame the artist for failing to negotiate a good contract for himself.

  5. brianp

    The artists need better lawyers.

  6. Mike Barthel

    Labels don’t want to let artists go even when they’re not releasing albums by them because the artists still owe them money (or, er, “owe them money”), and if they drop them, that’s money they’ll never get. If they keep them under contract, they can conceivably get some other label to buy out their contract in exachange for an override, which would mean that Capitol would be entitled to take any future royalties owed to Ras Kass until they were fully recouped (which would obviously be approximately never) and/or a percentage of any future Ras Kass revenue.

  7. Dickdogfood

    Still doesn’t make any sense to me. Even if they’re hoping another label will buy out his contract, isn’t preventing any kind of release of not one but two albums — and even going so far as to sue “regional mixtape DJ’s who put Ras Kass freestyles on their tapes” as he puts it — a pretty effective way of keeping the guy out of the public limelight, which means (excuse the language here) depreciating his value as a commodity and ensuring that no outside record company would want to touch him, which in turn means closing off all chances Capitol will recoup their losses?

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