Kanye West Is At It Again On Twitter — But He’s Actually Making Some Points This Time

Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Sean Combs.
If you’ve been avoiding Kanye West’s Twitter account for the sake of your peace of mind, I wouldn’t blame you — the rapper’s tweets have been chaos for years now. But West’s current stream of consciousness isn’t just random rap beef or politicking for the made-up Birthday Party. He’s got a new cause to champion: musicians owning the masters of their catalogues.
For days now, West has been tweeting about his gripes with the music industry, mainly the fact that many artists are being exploited and “enslaved” by the record labels they sign contracts with. 
“I need to see everybody’s contracts at Universal and Sony,” he tweeted on Monday. “I’m not gonna watch my people be enslaved.”
“The music industry and the NBA are modern day slave ships...I’m the new Moses."
Any mention of slavery from West personally makes me cringe — PTSD from his comments from 2018, I guess — but as much as it shocks me to say this, he actually has a point here. Dreaming of becoming big stars, hopeful musicians nab what they believe to be win-win deals with major record labels, only to realise years down the road that they’ve signed the rights to their music (and to the money they’ve earned from said music) away to their corporate overlords. In addition to not fully being able to control what they can do with their work, the cash flow is often less steady than they expected; their income often depends on gruelling tour schedules and the sale of merchandise.
West has had enough. His plan is to turn the tables on the music industry and expand artists’ rights. He's already reached out to the record labels and connected with several key executives, including a woman named Katie Jacobs who sits on the board of Vivendi, the French company that owns Universal Music Group. Allegedly, West's conversation with Jacobs led to an agreement of creating a semblance of a Y combinator (a type of seed money startup accelerator) for the music industry. According to West, the Y combinator would force music labels to be transparent with their business deals and allow artists to control their careers. It's certainly an idea, but will record labels actually play ball?
The rapper is also making movies to acquire full ownership of his music catalogue from Universal Music Group and Sony Music Group. In screenshots of iMessage conversations, West weighed his options for ownership, which included shelling out millions for his vast discography. The messages also mentioned Taylor Swift — not because of their lasting beef, but because the pop star is also famously battling Big Machine Records and Scooter Braun for control of her masters. Failing to come to an agreement with her former record label, Swift is now in the process of re-recording her six studio albums so they will technically be new projects.
Though Swift couldn't do it, there are musicians who have successfully gotten ownership over their masters. Jay-Z owns all of his music, as does Rihanna. Ciara, Chance the Rapper, Frank Ocean, and even 21 Savage also fully own their catalogues. But as usual, West just thinks he's the first. Because Kanye.
"I am the only person who can speak on this because I made multi billions outside of music" he tweeted this morning. "No musicians make billions inside of music. I’m going to change this."
The method may be unusual, but if West's Twitter rants actually end up making music more equitable for musicians, who am I to judge? Tweet on, Kanye. Tweet on.

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