De La Soul have announced that, after 30 years with Tommy Boy Records, the legendary rap group has cut ties with the record label following a months-long negotiation over the streaming rights of their back catalog.
In February, plans to bring De La Soul’s Tommy Boy-era LPs – including classics like 1989’s 3 Feet High and Rising, De La Soul Is Dead and Buhloone Mindstate – to streaming services were delayed by clearance issues related to the albums as well as what De La Soul deemed was an unfair split of the streaming profits; the label was only giving the group 10 percent of streaming profits, with Tommy Boy pocketing the rest, the group said at the time.
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De La Soul lobbied both streaming services and rap peers – including to Nas and Questlove – to both not upload their back catalog and boycott Tommy Boy until the two sides worked out a new deal. However, after seven months, De La Soul has stepped away from the negotiations.
“After 30 years of profiting from our music and hard work… and after 7 long months of stalled negotiations, we are sad to say that we’ve been unable to reach an agreement and earn Tommy Boy’s respect for our music/legacy,” De La Soul wrote on Instagram.
“Tommy Boy says they are ‘not in the business of giving artists back their Masters.’ We realize, there is a process in reclaiming ownership but we do not trust Tommy Boy in this process after so many years of disappointment. Therefore, our catalog will not see the light of day by way of our involvement or consent.”
De La Soul continued, “This means, if you see De La Soul music/albums available for streaming or purchase anywhere, BE AWARE, all parties involved WILL profit but De La Soul WILL NOT benefit or earn deservedly/fairly. We really tried.”
At press time, De La Soul’s Tommy Boy-era albums were still unavailable on streaming services. The group pledged to continue recording and releasing under their own terms: In 2016, De La Soul released their Kickstarter-funded LP And the Anonymous Nobody.
“We wish Tommy Boy no ills but we do call for a boycott of anything bearing the name,” De La Soul wrote Sunday. “Karma will do the rest… that old enslaved record label contract dinosaur is long dead and gone, but unfortunately still stinks.”
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