The “magic number” for De La Soul must’ve been 2021 because they’ve just been dealt a major “W” when it comes to their music rights.
Per HipHopDX, the iconic New York-based hip hop group has at long last won back their masters from Tommy Boy Records after a years-long, tumultuous battle. The news was shared by group member DJ Maseo in an Instagram post late Monday night. “Come celebrate the good news,” he wrote in part, in tandem with an announcement that the group would be doing an Instagram Live Tuesday at 3 p.m. ET.
Rapper Talib Kweli also confirmed the good news in a separate post on social media, writing:
“After years of being taken advantage [of] by the recording industry in the worst possible ways, De La Soul now owns all the rights to their masters and is in full control of the amazing music they have created,” Kweli wrote. “Let’s salute Plugs 1, 2 and 3 for sticking to their guns and showing us that we can all beat the system if we come together as a community. Let’s hear it for black ownership of black art! Congratulations fellas…”
Back in June, Reservoir announced it had acquired Tommy Boy Records for a whopping $100 million. That deal included rights to a plethora of iconic catalogues from artists and groups such as Naughty by Nature, Coolio, Digital Underground, Queen Latifah and De La Soul, including the latter’s debut album 3 Feet High and Rising along with De La Soul Is Dead, Buhloone Mindstate and Stakes Is High. Now that things are back on the good foot, a rep for Reservoir has confirmed that they’re working towards getting De La Soul’s music “back to fans” and back on streaming services.
The relationship between De La Soul and their initial label Tommy Boy Records soured when it was revealed that TBR negotiated a deal to receive 90 percent of streaming revenue, leaving only 10 percent to the group. In 2019, the strained relationship came to a head after the group publicly called out Tommy Boy Records founder Tom Silverman on social media after months of failed negotiations.
“Tommy Boy says they are “not in the business of giving artists back their Masters.” We realize, there is a process in reclaiming ownership but we do not trust Tommy Boy in this process after so many years of disappointment. Therefore, our catalog will not see the light of day by way of our involvement or consent,” the group said in a joint statement at the time.
They later added, “Nevertheless, our fans have/will keep our legacy alive! We appreciate and ask for your continued support. Onto new things, new music and more amazing respectful business relationships.”