If there's one word to describe Kesha's new album, Rainbow, it might be "defiant." The album, Kesha's third, is her first album since 2012's Warrior.
And if her songs' lyrics are any indication, Kesha is making up for lost time. In "Learn to Let Go," the singer offers an emotional look at her time as "a prisoner of the past." And in "Woman," the singer proudly proclaims that she doesn't need any man's help to achieve success and happiness.
But a new, in-depth Vulture story suggests that Kesha might not be as free as her new music suggests. Vulture's Dee Lockett explains that Dr. Luke might still make money from Kesha's Rainbow, even though, as of April, he's no longer the CEO of Kemosabe Records.
Dr. Luke was Kesha's former producer. The singer has accused him of emotional and sexual abuse, as well as weight shaming. She filed a lawsuit against him in 2014. As Lockett points out, the pair's professional relationship started with Kesha's record deal in 2005. (Dr. Luke also countersued Kesha after her legal action, and he recently dropped his defamation lawsuit against Kesha's mom, Pebe Sebert.)
Lockett explains that while Dr. Luke isn't in charge of Kemosabe, which he co-founded in 2011, he might still have ties to Sony Music Entertainment. Specifically, she explains, "the extent of their relationship is unknown." A Sony rep declined to tell Lockett about "the nature of [Dr. Luke's] involvement with Rainbow."
Rainbow will still be released on Kemosabe Records — which means Dr. Luke could profit from it, despite not being the label's CEO. (Last year, a judge denied Kesha's injunction to be released from her contract.) The Fader also reported earlier this month that according to a legal statement from October 2016, the label "provided Kesha with detailed feedback in writing and in person on the tracks she provided to help her further develop the material."
Dan Stone, an entertainment litigator, also told The Fader that Kesha and Kemosable likely "struck a behind-the-scenes deal" for the album's release.
Meanwhile, reps for Kesha, Dr. Luke, Sony, and Sony's RCA Records all declined to tell Lockett whether Dr. Luke will profit from Rainbow. In addition, Lockett writes, "questions about whether Kesha self-funded the album... went unanswered."
Lockett also explains that because Kesha "has not legally been allowed to make any changes to her contract," the publishing rights for her new songs might still be the property of Luke's Prescription Songs. If that's the case, "Luke essentially owns them," she explains.
"None of Kesha's music would have come out without the full support of Kemosabe and Dr. Luke, who is a joint venture owner of Kemosabe. Just to be clear, Luke has never wished for Kesha's music not to come out," a rep for Dr. Luke told Vulture.
"Your past only has as much effect on your future as you want it to. It's about embracing your past, but not letting it define you," Kesha wrote in a Huffington Post essay about "Learn to Let Go." Unfortunately, based on Vulture and The Fader's reporting, it sounds like the singer can't completely let go of Dr. Luke, even though she's now able to make new music.
Reps for Kesha and Dr. Luke didn't immediately respond to Refinery29's request for comment. We will update this post if and when we obtain a response.
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