After a tumultuous Black History Month, we’re entering Women’s History Month with more controversy. This time, it involves what seems to be the exploitation of a black woman in the music industry.
On Sunday, in a clip from Megan Thee Stallion’s Instagram Live that surfaced on Twitter, the 25-year-old artist claimed her record label 1501 Certified Entertainment isn’t allowing her to release new music simply because she requested to renegotiate her contract.
She began her video by saying she signed a contract with the label when she was 20, but she had never really examined what it entailed until she signed a management deal with Roc Nation last year. “So when I got with Roc Nation, I got management, real management, I got real lawyers, and they was like, ‘Do you know that this is in your contract?’” she said. “And I was like ‘Oh damn, that’s crazy. No, I didn’t know.”
Megan—who claims she’s not a “a person that likes confrontation—said that once she became aware of what was in her contract, she approached 1501 with a request to renegotiate the contract.
“I wasn’t upset [with 1501] because I was thinking ‘Everybody cool, we all family, it’s cool, it’s nice…let me just ask [them] to renegotiate my contract’.”
However, things weren’t all “cool.”
“As soon as I asked them to renegotiate my contract, everything went left.”
Naturally, the video sparked a discussion and debate on Twitter, with many questioning why Megan didn’t read her contract. Megan took to Twitter to respond to the incredulous questioning noting, “It’s not that I literally didn’t read it it’s that I didn’t understand some of the the verbiage at the time and now that I do I just wanted it corrected.”
As of now, we don’t know what specific details of the contract raised concern with Roc Nation and Megan. It’s important to note that the term “jargon” exists for a reason, and even if she had read the contract, legal language is definitely designed so that a layman wouldn’t necessarily understand it thoroughly. And if she did use a lawyer from her record label’s team, that would raise a huge red “conflict of interest” flag, given that the record label team was technically at “the other side of the table” in this contract deal. But, of course, a young and new artist without a proper team might not know that.
“I didn’t really know what was in my contract,” she said on her IG Live. “I was young. I think I was, like, 20.”
“It’s really just a greedy game,” Megan added.
Some Twitter users took the time to speak on their own experiences in the music industry, while others pointed out the suspicious trend of young black women specifically being exploited.
“You mad because I don’t want to roll over and bow down like a little bitch and you don’t want to renegotiate my contract,” Megan said via IG, seemingly directing the statement to the 1501 team.
To skeptics and critics who say the record label “made” her, the Houston rapper responded, “Megan Thee Stallion was Megan Thee Stallion before I got over there. I been rapping, been freestyling, been doing me.”
Overall, Megan hopes her experience can be a teachable moment for the next upcoming artist.
“Please, it might seem good, it might sound good, but you definitely got to read,” she said on the same IG Live video. “Read all that shit. Don’t sign that without no lawyer…and get your own lawyer, with their own opinion.”
The Root has reached out to Megan Thee Stallion’s management team at Roc Nation as well as her record label 1501 Certified Entertainment for comment.
Update: 3/2/2020, 8:20 p.m. ET:
The plot thickens. According to TMZ, Megan filed a suit against 1501 and its CEO Carl Crawford on Monday.
In the suit, Megan lays out the most outrageous terms of her contract, at least in her eyes. For instance, she claims the deal calls for 1501 Certified to get 60% of her recording income. The remaining 40% goes to her, but she has to use that to pay engineers, mixers and featured artists who work on the songs.
Additionally, a Harris County Texas district judge granted the artist a temporary restraining order against the label so that it cannot prevent her from releasing new music. She plans to release new music on Friday.