Warner Modifies Deal With Talib Kweli Label

Warner Music Group has relinquished its exclusive distribution rights to Talib Kweli's Blacksmith Music label, however the major label still has the first right of refusal for Blacksmith acts.

Blacksmith co-founder Corey Smyth told Billboard.biz exclusively that Kweli, Jean Grae and Strong Arm Steady will each release material this year, and that Kweli’s initial quotes to media where the MC said he was no longer signed to Warner were said in haste.

"Talib’s response isn’t 100% accurate," says Smyth. "He was speaking from frustration, he was receiving phone calls from friends saying that they’d heard that he was dropped from Warner on December 29 and 30. Blacksmith Music has a contract with Warner Music Group that has lapsed and they’re not obligated to put out any new artists that we sign."

A Warner spokesperson says the company still has the option to release music from Blacksmith artists such as Jean Grae, Strong Arm Steady.

Kweli himself is still signed to Warner Bros. as a solo artist and is currently wrapping his upcoming duet album with producer Hi-Tek, "Reflection Eternal: Train of Thought II." The set is due sometime this year.

"Strong Arm Steady has a single called 'Strong Arms and Hammers' that we’re releasing," says Smyth. "We’re also launching our social network, theyearoftheblacksmith.com and blacksmith tv, which is our take on "Curb Your Enthusiasm,” with the internet television company, Flow.tv."

Kweli and partner Corey Smyth launched Blacksmith Music in 2006.

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