I want to preface this with a reminder to you all that I am not an “industry insider”, I am not and have never been an employee of any record label or entertainment entity, nor have ever been an artist or entertainer. When I write these pieces I write from a fan’s perspective and I try to write to personify the culture. I don’t always get it right but I hope I bring a fresh perspective. Now, if you didn’t know legendary Hip Hop trio, De La Soul are in a serious dogfight with Tom Silverman and Tommy Boy Records. If you were born later in the nineties you may not know the record label or Silverman himself but over the years loads of artists have had their gripes with the label and the owner. Everyone from Masta Ace to Noreaga have expressed their feelings about Tommy Boy Records in their verses and rhymes. The problem with Tom and Tommy Boy is their relentless desire to enslave artists and Tom hasn’t let up, EVER! Some artists stop making music because Tom Silverman himself gets paid all monies owed and the artists get nothing for their work. De La Soul was so fed up a few years ago they released all of their music themselves for free. I’m talking full length albums from the beginning to the end and I’m glad I got my free copies.
The issue revolves around sampling and clearances that allegedly amount to two million dollars. When Hip Hop began in the late seventies all the young dee jays had were break beats. The owners of the break beats had two choices in those days, clear the sample or ignore it and let the young kids rock. On the other hand the label had only one choice, to make sure that the song got cleared. If DJ Paul and Juicy J didn’t clear samples used by Travis $cott, Migos, Future, A$AP Mob, and all of your new favorite rappers and just let them run up numbers and come back for their money after the song as gone global whose fault is that? Whose responsibility is it to get the job done? Someone was not doing their job and that person worked at Tommy Boy Records. For an iconic Hip Hop group that has given nothing but art to the culture and maintained their integrity throughout their career they deserve to see the fruits of their labor. I know they’re owed millions over time and if their music can be streamed that’d be a resurgence in their legacy among other things. While the Silverman family is living high on the hog at the group’s expense, they have to tour just to maintain.
Rappers being owed millions for the work they put in decades ago that is still bringing in money today…sounds almost like reparations are due to the trio. This is how the music business mimics slavery practices. Terms like owning your “masters” and labels making “slave” copies of those masters is absurd. Tom Silverman and Tommy Boy Records owe De La Soul and more than a handful of other artist their legacy. This isn’t just about Tommy Boy Records, this is about all the bad business that record labels conduct and then blame the artist without giving them the money they are owed. If Tom Silverman had any integrity he’d allow De La to put their music out the way they want and take responsibility for paying anything that might be due for samples. As an entrepreneur you would want your money and your product. TIDAL has pulled most of the De La catalogue from their platform in support of the group and they’ve gotten nothing but love and support from the culture. So it’s grind time for De La Soul and we, are the anonymous nobodies.