De La Soul Ends Negotiations With Tommy Boy Records Over Back Catalog

Robert Adam Mayer 
De La Soul

After months of back-and-forth, streaming talks with the group's former label have broken down.

De La Soul has canceled negotiations with Tommy Boy Records over the release of their catalog to streaming services, the hip-hop group announced in a press release Thursday (August 8).

“Well friends, after 30 years of profiting from our music and hard work... and after 7 long months of stalled negotiations, we are sad to say that we’ve been unable to reach an agreement and earn Tommy Boy’s respect for our legacy,” said De La Soul member Dave (fka Trugoy the Dove and née David Jude Jolicoeur) in a statement posted to Instagram. “With some helpful consulting and long careful consideration, we’ve decided we will not do our 30+ years the disservice of settling on Tom Silverman’s terms.”

Tom Silverman, CEO of Tommy Boy, signed De La Soul in the late 1980s and released their first six studio albums, including the landmark LPs 3 Feet High and Rising and De La Soul Is Dead. Due to the group’s heavy use of uncleared samples, its catalog has been plagued by legal issues since the release of 3 Feet High and has been withheld from streaming platforms as a result.

Billboard reached out to Silverman for comment but had not heard back at the time of publishing.

De La Soul’s spat with Tommy Boy went public back in February, when the group members took to social media to air their grievances over what they alleged to be unfair terms around the release of their catalog on streaming. In a subsequent appearance on Sirius XM’s Sway in the Morning, the group claimed they had earned only “peanuts” from their recorded music due to copyright issues. They later told Billboard they weren't convinced Tommy Boy had adequately resolved those issues.

Several of the group's hip-hop peers quickly rallied to their defense, including Jay-Z, who stated he would bar the release of the group's catalog on his TIDAL streaming service.

Tommy Boy subsequently announced to Variety that it would be delaying the release of the group’s catalog to streaming services as a result of the stalled negotiations. The label claimed it had been trying to finalize deal terms with the group “for months” to no avail.

In the statement released today, De La Soul claimed they walked after Tommy Boy offered an unfair split of royalties due to an alleged $2 million debt owed by the label pertaining to the group's catalog.

“If the Trio accepted the offer Tommy Boy presented the week the catalog would be made available,” said the group,” they would receive 10% of the cut regarding their six-album catalog, which has been unavailable in the digital retail and streaming space for years, and responsible for a $2 million debt Tommy Boy claims they owe.”

De La Soul's as-yet-untitled tenth studio album is slated for release on Mass Appeal Records sometime this year. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Well friends, after 30 years of profiting from our music and hard work... and after 7 long months of stalled negotiations, we are sad to say that we’ve been unable to reach an agreement and earn Tommy Boy’s respect for our music/legacy. With some helpful consulting and long careful consideration, we’ve decided we will not do our 30+ years the disservice of settling on Tom Silverman’s terms. 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. This means, if you see De La Soul music/albums available for streaming or purchase anywhere, BE AWARE, all parties involved WILL profit but De La Soul WILL NOT benefit or earn deservedly/fairly. We really tried. More details to come. 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. #dontpressplay #respectourlegacy #respecttheculture #tommyboycottcontinues #4080

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