Staying on top of Yeezy news isn’t easy these days. The billionaire rapper and entrepreneur seems to embroil himself in some fresh, twisted controversy at every opportunity. This week, Kanye West is campaigning against the recording industry, specifically Universal Music Group, in an effort to gain control of his masters.
The movement for musicians to retain ownership of their recordings is a growing trend, popularized by none other than West’s foe, Taylor Swift, who publicly took on Scooter Braun over her masters last year. But the barrage of tweets Ye has published this week have also been characteristically confrontational; in a missive posted late Monday, West compared the music industry and the NBA to “modern day slave ships.”
In the midst of his social media tirade, which continued into Tuesday and Wednesday, West declared, “I’m not putting no more music out till I’m done with my contract[s]” with his record label, Universal, and his publisher, Sony/ATV Music. Ye claimed on Twitter he’s made enough money to purchase the masters outright, but that Universal won’t give him the chance. He then shared images of what he claimed were 10 recording contracts between himself and the label and wrote, “I need every lawyer in the world to look at these.”
West tried to enlist the support of other famous musicians: “Bono can I get a retweet Love you Paul [McCartney] can I get a retweet love you Drake Kendrick even Taylor,” he tweeted. “ALL THE MUSICIANS WILL BE FREE.” Ye’s Tuesday tweet storm also included a screenshot of a text from an unnamed advisor, who claims the rapper’s masters are worth more than Swift’s.
By Wednesday, West’s attention had largely turned to pushing for Black ownership in business, tweeting about African-Americans not getting their fair share of equity and being exploited by companies run by white people. He again pointed to the music business and the NBA as examples. "We sat back and watched Nick Cannon get canceled and we go to play ball in a bubble with black lives matter on our backs [...] brothers let’s stand together for real [...] there is no NBA or music industry without black people,” West wrote. Then Ye drove his point home in a rather disgusting way: by posting a video of someone, presumably himself, urinating on one of his 21 Grammy Awards.
It’s important to note West has publicly spoken about his bipolar disorder diagnosis, and also his reluctance to take medication for his condition. His many, many tweets the last few days could be symptomatic of a manic episode. But this behavior is also par-for-the-course when it comes to the megalomaniacal musician. Meanwhile, Republican operatives in Iowa and other swing states are working to further Ye’s presidential aspirations, in an effort to thwart Joe Biden. Goodness, 2020 has been a lot.