CareerBae: Kanye’s “Slavery” Contract

Kanye West who received blacklash for his “Slavery Is a Choice” comments on TMZ seems to be dealing with his own enslavement under his contract with music publisher EMI.

In late January, Kanye sued EMI in Los Angeles Superior Court for violating California labor laws and requesting the ownership of his copyrights by returned to him beforehand the statutory 35 years.

The contract reads:

You (Mr. West) hereby represent and warrant that to [EMI] that You will, throughout the Term as extended by this Modification, remain actively involved in writing, recording and producing Compositions and Major Label Albums, as Your principle occupation. 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 preceding representation shall not be deemed to prevent You from taking a vacation of limited duration.)


Therefore, Kanye’s complaint is an attempt to “obtain his freedom,” citing California Labor Code section 2855, which mandates that personal services contracts have a maximum of seven years. Kanye, has surpassed this seven years and has been under this same contracts since 2003 when he recorded his debut album, College Dropout.

 What is equally disturbing is how the contract defines the “term” or period of the contract. (Read full contract and complaint here ).

In 2003, Kanye signed his original term was 3 years plus an optional year. However, the contract year is defined as “longer of 12 months or how long it takes him to record min 3 full new compositions per year”. EMI defines “full new composition” as having to be studio released amongst other requirements and defines “full” as him having to be the sole writer on the composition. 

What does this all mean? Kanye is never getting out of this contract under these terms! Not to mention that he agreed to five extra extensions from 2003-2017. Smh. Looks like he “chose” to be a slave under EMI.

Should the Court let Kanye out of this contract?








The service contract I understand, but why he thinks he is getting his copyrights back before the 35 years are up is what is confusing. He can’t just deman whatever he wants.

Michael W.

Lol the irony of it all!

Michael W.

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