A lawsuit against EMI states that rapper Kanye West is bound to a contract that “has no end in sight”.
With eight albums, several Grammys, multimillion sales and a clothing line under his belt, it wouldn’t be out of the question for Kanye West to be thinking about retirement.
But it sounds like the rapper doesn’t have the option.
According to a lawsuit, the 41-year-old star is legally prevented from retiring under the terms of his record contract.
West, best known for hits including Gold Digger, Jesus Walks and Stronger, is attempting to free himself from his deal with EMI.
The rapper argues that the deal is “lopsided”, that he has been underpaid, and that it is a violation of California law to keep anyone locked into a personal service contract for more than seven years.
Since originally signing the deal in 2003, he has signed five extensions – but his lawyers argue they should not count after 2010.
The complaint was initially filed at Los Angeles Superior Court in January, but was heavily redacted.
However, EMI has now responded, revealing the full text for the first time.
West’s lawsuit states that under the terms of his contract he must “remain actively involved in writing, recording and producing” songs and albums.
The contract reportedly adds: “At no time during the term will you seek to retire as a songwriter, recording artist or producer or take any extended hiatus during which you are not actively pursuing your musical career in the same basic manner as you have pursued such career to date.”
The lawsuit argues that due to the conditions of the contract, which stipulate how many songs he needs to write at different stages of the agreement, “from EMI’s point of view, the terms of this contract has no end in sight”.
West is also trying to persuade a judge to declare him the owner of any musical works he created after October 2010, following the initial seven years.
Details of which songs and albums this would include have not been revealed, but he has released four albums since then: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, in November 2010; Yeezus, in June 2013; The Life Of Pablo, in February 2016; and Ye, in June 2018.
A release date for his ninth studio album, Yandhi, is yet to be confirmed.
In its response to the lawsuit, EMI, one of the biggest record labels in the world, has attempted to take the case from state court to federal court, which has jurisdiction over copyright law.
A notice for removal states: “The rights to, ownership interest in, and exploitation of copyrightable musical compositions are precisely the subject matter of the Copyright Act.”