Kanye is reportedly suing his longtime record labels, Roc-A-Fella Records and Def Jam, as well as his music publisher, EMI.
TMZ reports that Kanye filed two separate lawsuits on Friday (Jan. 25th), one against Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam, and the other against EMI. The lawsuits are said to be heavily redacted, but it seems both have to do with unpaid royalties and ownership rights.
Update – January 31st: Newly filed legal documents (via TMZ) have shed more light on Kanye’s points of contention. Specifically, he claims his existing contracts with Roc-A-Fella and EMI amount to servitude and he is entitled “to be set free from its bonds.” Kanye notes that in California personal services contracts cannot last longer than seven years, and he also takes issue with number of songs he’s required to deliver before he’s able to exit these contracts. He is asking the judge to invalidate the contracts as of 2010, which would revert all of the rights of his songs back to him.
Kanye has previously expressed a desire to buy back his publishing rights. During an Instagram Live session in October 2018, he revealed that he had agreed to pay Sony/ATV — EMI’s parent company — between $8 and $9 million for ownership of his publishing.
“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.”
“I got the money,” Kanye added. “I’m not gonna say the S-word. I’m not Prince; I don’t need to write it on my face.”