Image courtesy of Chuck D
If you were Chuck D in 2019, you might think life couldn’t get better. The Gods of Rap Tour – Public Enemy, Wu-Tang Clan and De La Soul – is just off three sold out nights in London, Manchester and Glasgow in May…with apparently more to come. And his killer 2018 solo album Celebration of Ignorance – with its Trump-slamming track “TiredOf45”- won raves from critics and fans.
But TMZ has just obtained paperwork bringing to light a startling lawsuit, filed by the legendary rapper, claiming his label and publishing company had been ripping him off to an astonishing degree. It alleges that he was duped into signing a contract in 2001 with Global Music and Terrordome Music Publishing, which would essentially strip him of his songwriting royalties. Documents surfaced in February that led the Public Enemy frontman to realize that he had seemingly been hoodwinked for years, causing him to lose a 42% stake in his own music catalog.
The suit is demanding $1 million in damages, and the restoration of ownership of his songs. All involved parties are not commenting on the record – though it is likely to blow up into a very public case.
The reason that it matters even beyond Chuck D and this lawsuit is that, at a time when the value of creating music is being persistently diminished, artists more than ever have to do whatever they can to fight to protect and control ownership over their own work. Expect to hear much more about the case in the coming weeks.