The rap group has offered an update on their negotiations with Tommy Boy in regards to their first six albums.
“Dear fans…just got off the phone with Tommy Boy Records…negotiations (or lack there of) to release our catalog on all streaming platforms..uh oh,” the group said at the time. “…After 30 long years of good music and paying their debt to hip-hop, De La Soul unfortunately, will not taste the fruit of their labor. Your purchases will roughly go 90% Tommy Boy, 10% De La.”
Now, De La has offered an update on their situation with Tommy Boy, saying that they were “unable to reach an agreement” with the label over their catalog.
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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
“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,” a statement posted to the group’s Instagram reads. “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.”
De La had spoken further on their situation during an appearance on Sway in the Morning.
The trio explained how their catalog — from 3 Feet High and Rising to AOI: Bionix — was in limbo not only because it wasn’t prepared for the digital age but because Warner Bros. had acquired it. (Warner Bros. acquired half of Tommy Boy through a partnership made in 1985.) Half of that catalog then ended up getting lost to Warner Bros. because of a debt Tommy Boy had to pay to the label.
Ultimately, Warner Bros. didn’t attempt to put De La’s music on streaming and downloading services because of “issues that existed behind the projects,” most notably the clearance of samples on the albums.
“I don’t know what Tom Silverman’s deals were with clearning samples or if he even chose to clear samples but I know back then a lot was done on handshakes especially when you’re independent,” Maseo previously explained. “…By the time it got to Warner Bros. people come out of the wood works and say, ‘Hey, it’s time to cash a check.’ And I think, for the most part, the people who do come out the wood works, the business didn’t get dealt with at the time.”
Fast-forward to 2019, and Tommy Boy has acquired the catalog back but those same issues still exist, with the rap trio “somewhat aimlessly performing the music,” and only getting money from merchandise and touring.