Why Major Labels have to be DESTROYED

Within the past decade or two, We’ve heard artists spill their feelings about horror stories in dealing with Major Labels, We’ve heard stories about how a lot of these Major labels still profit off artists and license their music through commercials, video games, Movies, all while leaving the architects of the art-form either dead or penniless. Major labels have often forced acts to sell out to appeal to those demographics who are deaf, dumb, and blind, They're forced to compromise their integrity in order to generate income to support their families and it seems that the egregious business practices alongside with the “Its Business as Usual” mentality will never die.
Gone are the days of high budgets, Gone are the days of B-list artists pushing Gold, Gone are the days of doing monster first week numbers while the corporate pigs do nothing but sit back and celebrate eating fried pig guts and drinking Alize while enslaving their artists to another deal, The reality is for better or worse, Technology has changed hip hop. Many artists are adapting to change and finding out ways new options generate income without the need of the middle man. You’ve had artists like Tech9ne whom made 7.3 million dollars on an Independent without assistance from the major and landed on the Forbes list last year.
Fearing that the slaves are finally learning how to read, the label Executives had to find out a way to keep their infrastructures from crumbling. The fear of Black artists finding out the loopholes and understanding the business without their assistance means that they would no longer have any new acts to exploit and profit off. So with the help of Lyor Cohen, He orchestrated possibly the most severe form of contradiction obligations to a new artist; The 360 Deal.
This may come as a shock to many people including those who are reading this write-up, But what Curtis (50 Cent) Jackson did for the Business in hip hop should be considered revolutionary. Not only because he ushered the aggression back into the climate of music, but based on how he carried himself as a savvy businessman.
When 50 first inked his name on the Interscope Contract in 2002 with Shady Records, He was smart enough to take his Juggernaut like street buzz to the next level by signing to Hip Hop’s biggest duo Eminem and Dr. Dre. 50 was smart enough to sign with them at the time where Eminem was peaking, and Dre was still coasting off the Successful Up and Smoke Tour. 50 was also smart to build himself a Southern following by asking Master P to fund his first tour and then signing Young Buck from Cash Money.
The Investment turned out to reap substantial benefits, and 50 ended up owning 2003-2005. He treated the house of Interscope Records as a University, and he soaked up everything like a sponge. He was smart enough to capitalize off his popular brand by releasing G-unit Clothing, Sneakers, Books, Movies, and cashed in heavily on a Vitamin Water investment. Every artist he released under his label went Gold or Platinum, and Fif solidified himself as a serious player in the corporate world
50 through his brass bravado was a Machiavellian regarding business. He knew when to be charming, He knew when to be vicious, He knew when to feed his wolves, and he knew when it was time to cash out. He didn’t drink, smoke, or indulge in the typical rap foolishness so it would have been harder to actually destroy him.
50 was becoming way too powerful, and Jimmy Iovine wasn’t seeing any piece of the pie other than 50’s music checks which is why they slowly started chipping away at his star power. He saw the writing on the wall and negotiated his way out of his Interscope deal and breached a “Cash Money like Deal with “EMI” allowing him to distribute his own products and keeping a percentage of the sales.
When the Majors saw how 50 maneuvered his way from the ground up and build himself an empire without the assistance of a middle-man. They knew that they had to find a way to keep the oppressive system structure of Industry pimping so with the help of powerful executives, they created possibly the worst possible contractional obligation within the Industry and this man is responsible.
Lyor Cohen
My beef was with Lyor cause I think he’s a fake CEO, “And I think he’s fronting on my culture, but he can’t front on anybody else. And I’m calling him out publicly. And I want him to stop trying to rape my culture. Go make some money with some other people. Like, stop having your agenda be Hip Hop. It was like they have people that their job is to create beef. So, that they can monetize it. Pause. But they don’t let their culture feel it. But they make money from it. And they can’t make any money or get any respect in their culture. That’s why they’re in our culture. Because the minute that they were allowed to be there, they would go. But they just can’t. Never had a beef with Jay. Always with Lyor and his whole crew. He’s the one that ruined Roc-A-Fella. Lyor Cohen.”
Dame Dash
Don’t be fooled by this man. Just because you see this man laughing and smiling with your favorite rappers doesn’t mean he’s your friend. Lyor Cohen may be looked upon as the Hip Hop Version of Thomas Dunwitty. For those who aren’t familiar with Dunwitty, He’s the character played by Michael Rappaport in the controversial 2000 movie Bamboozled produced by Spike Lee. Like Dunwitty, Lyor showcases those similar characteristics. They think because they do business with blacks, talk with blacks, party with blacks or even sleep with Black women that they are automatically exempt and are a part of the culture.
Lyor may have played a massive role in brokering deals for many Def Jam acts such as DMX, Redman, Method Man, Ja Rule and many others who flourished in the 90s, there are many publications that even want to give him full credit for bringing so much money into rap (Which is Preposterous) He learned the game from Jam Master Jay and just like many, Used it to make himself wealthy through exploitation.
Lyor’s only motivation within hip hop was capitalism and his crimes committed within hip hop are horrendous, Dating back to the 80s when he helped the Franzese Crime Family keep Run DMC hostage at Priority Records and left their brand vulnerable. He also caused the wedge between longtime best friends Russell and Rick Rubin by selling the perception of Rubin being out of date and not moving with the times. Rush Management was another imprint of managing Def Jam Artists and controlling DJs such as DJ Chuck Chillout of Kiss, who played an enormous role in exposing payola amongst the Industry and breaking FCC rules.
Lyor didn’t stop there, Even in the midst of selling the perception that he was “down” with the culture and was true to hip hop that fooled many (Dame Included) He was creating oppressive deals to keep your favorite artists enslaved to these corporate bloodsuckers. Even though he put a block on Public Enemy being able to release their album through the internet despite Def Jam not really backing them any longer, The 360 deal was the icing on the cake.
The 360 Deal
There’s something called a 360 deal which entails that they get 25% of any ancillary properties that you do that come from your music,” “So if I’m famous because of a song and that leads me to get a TV show or a sneaker, they think that they deserve 25% of that. I refuse to do that.”
Lupe Fiasco
Atlantic Records were the first label to actually test the waters behind this new deal. Lyor claimed that this was better for the artists when that’s nothing more but a total contradiction. Unless an artist has a significant pull and on “big dog status (Like Jay-Z) it’s a terrible move for Indie artists and a step for the label giants to maintain control of their system structure.
Touring, merchandise is the artist’s primary source of income and when people actually started to pay attention and take control of their own deals like 50 Cent did, they knew that it would only be a matter of time before artists wised up and actually want to start distributing their own records, which cut off middle-men. How ironic is it that the 360 deal was introduced within the “Urban genre amongst Warner Bros? Why not add these deals within Rock or Country acts? They see hip hop as possibly the easiest to exploit and look no further than today’s acts.
One of the biggest rappers out right now is Young Thug. Thug has found his way to make himself “hot” within the mainstream within this past year. Within the past year in a half, his catchy hook patterns can be heard on Mainstream hits such as “I’m a Stoner,” Danny Glover, Lifestylez, and T.I.’s If It Aint about the Money. He even got cosigns from Hip Hop’s biggest mainstream label (Cash Money), so all is well right?
Young Thug like many new artists of today who are signed as temporary Microwave acts are currently in label limbo. Signing rights away of his artwork, recording masters, videos, and name to Gucci Mane’s 107 Brick Squad imprint. Gucci becoming incarcerated had Thugga thinking that his contract was null and void and that he could negotiate his way out, but he ended up instead signing one of the worst contracts with Atlantic’s APG(Artists Partners Group) with a deal just worth 30K with a 15K advance. Despite Birdman cosign and him being possibly one of the “hottest” out. He’s barely getting compensated.
He isn’t alone; The newest sensation in hip hop Bobby Smurda not too long ago was complaining about not receiving any show money and have to resort to dancing on tables in front of Old Executives to eat. Tyga is currently at odds with Cash Money over unpaid royalties and wants out but seems to be held captive. Chief Keef was just dropped off Interscope last week and complained about how Interscope today doesn’t understand his movement or his music. They just like many who were blinded by the smokescreen of success signifying fast cars, jewelry, homes, gorgeous women, and the best living money can buy. Judging by how the only 3 Conglomerates are controlling the whole musical landscape and owning these so-called black labels. The rules of the game will continue to be played.
What needs to be done?
Now that we have a clear understanding of whom the culture vultures are and heard the many horror stories of your favorite entertainers losing their freedoms. There comes a time where it’s time for us to take our culture back. We should be tired of having old 60-year-old farts or suburban kids who have no clue about our culture but only knows how to profit dictate what’s really hot on our chitlin circuit or what’s going on in these streets. The Independent game may seem like much work--BUT considering that these labels aren’t really pushing big artists like they did in the 90s--why stay? People should follow Yo Gotti’s blueprint and PURCHASE your contract instead of wasting away. Instead of buying cars, guns, and homes, He racked up enough to buy his freedom:
Watch your paperwork. I’ve been in two of the worst contracts you can ever be in. But I paid for that. I signed my deal with TVT for $40,000. At the time, I was a six-figure, young nigga in the streets. I ain’t sign the deal for the money because I looked at it like it was a chance for me to get out the streets. The money didn’t mean nothing to me. For them two or three years, I went and got my own self hot. And when the company folded, I had to buy myself out of that same contract for a half-a-million dollars of my money. So they profited $460,000 on signing me, shit like that.
Then I went into another contract with Polo Grounds and RCA, which was similar. I’m not gonna really talk on the specifics of that because business is business. I ain’t really got no bad blood with them, but the shit didn’t work, and I bought myself out of that contract.
We as supporters, Contributors, fans, writers, artists, producers of the culture have to play a considerable role in taking our culture back as well. Our supporting their projects--so they won’t need to sell themselves out and collab with artists whom they don’t respect--or resort to recording pop albums to eat--plays a critical denominator on the direction of hip-hop. People don’t understand the power of retail. Retail is still imperative because that controls the circulation of cash flow to keep the art being created. It's going to take more than just downloading a mixtape or retweeting it. We as supporters have to also support the artist’s work. Look at how Kendrick Lamar re-introduced the concept of creating a story within his whole album and putting importance behind creating a cohesive album instead of a “hot song”.
9th Wonder, Talib Kweli, and Pharaoh Monch are taking destiny into their own hands and actually distributing their own Independent distributing company to release their own records. Tech9ne is showing that you can make Forbes without needing a middleman, Action Bronson, Joey Badass, Hopsin, Nipsey Hussle are continuing to feed their cult followers so in hindsight Hip Hop isn’t dead. It’s more noise being made underground than ever because artists are slowly wising up to the information age and actually taking control of their destiny which is leading to a demise of the record industry’s corruption. The Cycle has to be broken, and it’s great to see. Now if other Black Artists amongst other genres would take their destiny into their own hands and actually continue the trend, then we may see a new trend.
The reality is that 1994 is NOT coming back, and the Majors are finding out the hard way on their lack of adaptation. The days of artists doing monster numbers who aren’t named Drake, Eminem, Lil Wayne, Jay-Z or Taylor Swift are done. Artists are now finding new ways to market their music to their base via technology and finding out new creative avenues to reach new audiences. Nipsey Hussle last year released his Crenshaw mixtape and also presented a package of a T-shirt, Autographed CD, and free VIP Access to his show. Jay-Z caught on to the buzz and bought 100 copies of his “mixtape”. It was possibly the biggest co-sign of his career.
So in closing, Major Labels are no longer relevant in today’s economy. There are way too much information and knowledge out there in today’s information age to where artists don’t have to necessary depend on a Major to put them on. Yes, the Machine was useful if you wanted that MTV base and they were able to put big marketing dollars behind your projects. The Machine may earn an artist a Grammy, but it’s not going to really get him or her ample compensation through their work. Either get shelved Birdman style or let your career waste away in obscurity.
It’s time for artists to link up and create for themselves. The fans have to play a role in making sure the art continues to circulate so the creators can continue to make great music and tour. Forget that mentality of “Creating something new,” Lets FIGHT FOR IT! -King Eric Da Ruler (October 30, 2014)
(You can check out the independent news outlet that he’s a part of at http://thegrid10.com/.
Also, check out the rest of his bloggings at http://escobar300.wordpress.com/.)
 (This article validates Eric's assertions.)

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