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Kanye West's Contract Actually Prevents Him From Being Able To Retire

Say what you will about Kanye West — and, indeed, there really is a lot that can be said — but he always finds a way to stay in the headlines.

The latest on Yeezus has nothing to do with his bromance with Donald Trump or industry feuds. In fact, it's probably something that nobody saw coming.

It ties into something he said awhile back.

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Speaking to TMZ last year, Kanye said, "When you hear about slavery for 400 years — for 400 years? That sounds like a choice." Needless to say, it was a controversial take.

Maybe it's because he feels enslaved.

He's worth a quarter of a billion dollars and has sold well over 100 million records worldwide, making him one of the biggest stars of all time. It's hard to imagine, but it does seem that he's a bit trapped.

It has to do with his record label.


Again, it seems like he should be the one calling the shots. But his record label, EMI, is reportedly the one with the power. It seems that, if they exercised that power, things could get weird for Kanye.

Here's the relevant text.

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"You (Mr. West) hereby represent and warrant that to [EMI] that You will, throughout the Term as extended by this Modification, remain actively involved in writing, recording and producing Compositions and Major Label Albums, as Your principle occupation."

It goes on...

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It states that Kanye, at no time, will seek to retire as a songwriter, recording artist or producer. He's also not allowed to take any kind of hiatus or break.


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That sounds a lot like he's literally banned from retiring. Like, because of his contract, a grey-haired Yeezus will be forced to belt out "Gold Digger" for retirees in Vegas in the 2040s.

Kanye reportedly sees it that way as well.

He launched a lawsuit against EMI in January over his rights and obligations. Not much of the complaint is known, but this new information surrounding his contract helps explain things somewhat.

The judge will have to make a decision.

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Basically, they'll have to decide whether the lawsuit is about Kanye's contract (whether he's allowed to retire) or his intellectual property (ownership over his songs). Either way, it could be an ugly fight.

Kanye's citing legislation.

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California Labor Code section 2855, otherwise known as the De Havilland Law, prohibits companies like EMI from signing performers to personal service contracts that are seven years or longer.

It's happened before.

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Other performers, from Olivia Newton-John to Thirty Seconds to Mars, have also had to sue in order to free themselves from contracts they viewed as overly restrictive to their careers.

Kanye's lawsuit is a big one.

He wants to get away from EMI, no doubt. A big part of that is that he'd probably like to retire someday. But it's really just the most attention-grabbing complaint in a pretty long list.

He wants the rights to his music.


He says EMI should not be able to collect any royalties from any of his music released after October of 2010. That's nearly a decade of music, including some career highlights, that he wants the rights to.

It's looking like a messy divorce.

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We probably won't know many of the details until it's resolved (and even then, we might not). But one thing's for sure: if Kanye isn't granted his freedom from EMI, he's not going to be a happy camper.

He might be the most interesting man in the world.

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His music is critically acclaimed, but even if it isn't your cup of tea, it's a near-certainty that at any given moment, Kanye West is up to something interesting — and usually newsworthy.