Black Sheep Files $750M Lawsuit Against Universal Music For Unpaid Royalties

’90s hip-hop duo Black Sheep have filed a class action lawsuit against Universal Music Group over unpaid royalties in a Spotify deal.

’90s hip-hop group Black Sheep are going after Universal Music Group to the tune of $750 million. According to a Rolling Stone report published on Wednesday, the rap duo filed a hefty class action lawsuit against Universal over unpaid royalties due to an alleged side deal with Spotify. Black Sheep, comprised of members Andres “Dres” Vargas Titus and William “Mista Lawnge” McLean, claim that UMG owes over $750 million to themselves and their entire artist roster for breeching contracts with a “sweetheart” deal with the music streaming platform.

Titus and McLean also claim that UMG accepted cash and company stock from Spotify in exchange for music from their artists, only to “shortchange” artists when distributing royalty payments. In the lawsuit, Titus and McLean said that the “previously undisclosed” deal violates the contract they have with former Universal subsidiary Polygram. Through Polygram, UMG is required to pay 50 percent of all net receipts connected to exploitation of the duo’s music.

“In the mid-2000s, Universal struck an undisclosed, sweetheart deal with Spotify whereby Universal agreed to accept substantially lower royalty payments on artists’ behalf in exchange for equity stake in Spotify – then a fledgling streaming service,” the documents read. “Yet rather than distribute to artists their 50 percent of Spotify stock or pay artists their true and accurate royalty payments, for years Universal shortchanged artists and deprived plaintiffs and class members of the full royalty payments they were owed under Universal’s contract.”

In response to Rolling Stone, a UMG spokesperson called the allegations “false and absurd.”

“Universal Music Group’s innovative leadership has led to the renewed growth of the music ecosystem to the benefit of recording artists, songwriters and creators around the world,” they stated. “UMG has a well-established track record of fighting for artist compensation and the claim that it would take equity at the expense of artist compensation is patently false and absurd. Given that this is pending litigation, we cannot comment on all aspects of the complaint.”

Jaelani Turner-Williams

Jaelani Turner-Williams is a contributing news writer for Okayplayer with bylines at Billboard, MTV News, NYLON, Recording Academy and more. Read her mind on Twitter at @hernameisjae.

Published by
Jaelani Turner-Williams

Recent Posts

Best Songs of The Week: Navy Blue, Benny Sings, and More

The Round-Up is Okayplayer’s weekly playlist of the best songs in the worlds of hip-hop… Read More

March 24, 2023

7 New Albums You Should Be Listening To (Week of March 24)

Navy Blue leads our spotlighted albums of the week. The Brooklyn rapper released his impressive… Read More

March 24, 2023

JAY-Z Achieves $2.5 Billion Net Worth

In a new report, Forbes revealed that hip-hop's first billionaire, JAY-Z, now has a net… Read More

March 24, 2023

Watch Ash & Pikachu Take One Last Walk On ‘Pokémon’

After 26 years of anime series Pokémon, Pikachu and Ash Ketchum star in the latter's final… Read More

March 24, 2023

Danny Brown & JPEGMAFIA Are ‘Scaring the Hoes’ on Their New Album

Alternative rap wordsmiths Danny Brown and JPEGMAFIA have released their debut collaborative album Scaring the… Read More

March 24, 2023

Listen to Navy Blue’s Major Label Debut, ‘Ways of Knowing’

On Thursday, Navy Blue released his Def Jam Recordings debut LP Ways of Knowing, fully… Read More

March 24, 2023