De La Soul have announced that they’re ending their relationship with Tommy Boy Records, the iconic rap label known for helping bring hip-hop to the mainstream in the 1980s, after struggling to negotiate fair royalty rights to the group’s back catalog, as Rolling Stone points out.
Earlier this year, the label announced that it would be bringing De La Soul favorites like 3 Feet High And Rising to streaming platforms after an extended struggle to make their back catalog digitally available. The streaming initiative was put on hold after De La Soul criticized the “unbalanced, unfair terms” of the arrangement. “Your purchases will roughly go 90% Tommy Boy, 10% De La,” the group wrote on Instagram.
In the wake of this dispute, De La Soul earned support from both streaming services and from other artists like Nas and Questlove, who they encouraged not to work with Tommy Boy until their deal with De La Soul was resolved. Ultimately, the group has decided to withdraw from efforts to negotiate with Tommy Boy.
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Well friends, 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. With some helpful consulting and long careful consideration, we’ve decided we will not do our 30+ years the disservice of settling on Tom Silverman’s terms. 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. 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. More details to come. Nevertheless, our fans have/will keep our legacy alive! We appreciate and ask for your continued support. Onto new things, new music and more amazing respectful business relationships. #dontpressplay #respectourlegacy #respecttheculture #tommyboycottcontinues #4080
“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,” the group wrote on Instagram. “With some helpful consulting and long careful consideration, we’ve decided we will not do our 30+ years the disservice of settling on Tom Silverman’s terms.”
The statement goes on to criticize the label’s business practices. “Tommy Boy says they are ‘not in the business of giving artists back their Masters,'” they write. “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.”
The group also hopes to alert fans that if their music does appear on streaming platforms, they will not be the ones profiting from it. “Our catalog will not see the light of day by way of our involvement or consent,” they write. “We really tried.”
De La Soul’s Tommy Boy albums are currently unavailable on streaming platforms. “We wish Tommy Boy no ills but we do call for a boycott of anything bearing the name,” the group continued in a separate Instagram post. “Karma will do the rest…that old enslaved record label contract dinosaur is long dead and gone, but unfortunately still stinks.”
SPIN has reached out to Tommy Boy and De La Soul for more information, and we’ll update this post if we hear back.
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Thank you friends and fans. Your kind positive words mean a lot and your support goes even farther. As frustrating as it is and as crazy as it may sound, your act of NOT purchasing or streaming anything musically De La Soul, falling under the Tommy Boy banner (until further notice) helps us immensely and can possibly aid others experiencing these similar woes. Thank you @nas …thanks Pete @bittenbender and @massappeal for your committed support and promising business relationship. We’re in the stew working on new music and will continue to celebrate this wonderful journey we’ve been blessed to experience. Thank you @djpremier and @realpeterock for your diligence and support. 30 years is a helluva milestone. We’re so proud to be able to share our celebration with you all. Look out for our 30 year commemorative release coming very soon #delacoinz Your support will directly fund future endeavors and projects…. Just to put the final nail in the coffin. We wish Tommy Boy no ills but we do call for a boycott of anything bearing the name. Karma will do the rest… that old enslaved record label contract dinosaur is long dead and gone, but unfortunately still stinks. For those who may not have had a similar experience with Tommy Boy, be thankful, be wise and stay alert… the devil does not rest and is never satisfied. Peace. Plug 1,2 and 3 Seek and check out these De La Soul releases: Impossible Mission mixtape #grinddate De La Soul: Are You In? Nike + Original run #smelltheda.i.s.y. #andtheanonymousnobody Tom Misch feat. De La Soul “It Runs Through Me” @djshadow feat. De La Soul “Rocket Fuel”