News of Megan Thee Stallion and her recording contract mishap has sent the internets and the interwebs into a tizzy.
What’s most disheartening in all of this is reflected particularly in the second tweet above. Megan currently can not make new music due to contract language, and blame for this is being placed squarely at her feet, with echoes of “she should have read her contract” billowing out from the fingers of people who don’t even know what’s in their cell phone contract.
The grind culture is showing their hypocrisy. Megan Thee Stallion has been pounding the pavement over the last few years, ingraining herself into the music industry as a fierce talent.
Now all of a sudden her hard work is irrelevant because “she’s the one that signed a bad deal”. It is beyond me that more people want to point the finger at her than talk about the continued predatory nature of the music industry.
Or maybe it’s not beyond me. Supporting black women is fashionable until bashing them becomes more trendy.
Were all of these people out here bashing Taylor Swift when she was having her contract woes?
I thought those terrible 360 deals where a thing left in “the 99 and the 2000”, but with more and more artists taking non traditional paths to music careers, it seems music labels are still passing out nefarious contract offerings to stay in business.
Sure. Artists should take responsibility and seek legal advice before signing any document, but the music business is persistent in it’s treachery, often precluding young artist especially from going into a record deal and coming out unscathed.
Years ago I spoke with a group member from one of the 90’s top boy bands that were signed with one of the preeminent record labels during that time. He told me that the group was hesitant to sign a contract at first because they didn’t know the totality of what they were getting into, but all of them thought the opportunity could drastically change their personal situations. A large amount of money offered upon signing made the deal even more tempting.
From what the group member said of the initial meeting, it was as if the label head had done his homework not only on their music, but also on their backgrounds and the community they were growing up in. The group member told me that when he looked back, it was almost as if the label head knew what he was getting them into. He knew offering a large sum of money would make it easy to sign four hungry young men ranging in age from late teens to early twenties who wanted to make music and create a life for their families they had only imagined.
The group had several successful albums from 1996 to 2002, but when they decided it was time to find a new home, the label head fought them over leaving, invoking the contract they signed. They were told if they left, they would lose all their music, masters, publishing, and would have to forfeit their name, image, and likeness. They were dumbfounded of course because they did not know this was in the contract, but particularly because after a string of number one hits and albums, they had no clue why someone who had offered himself as family would then try to take everything they created. They thought their career in the industry may have been over.
Severing ties finally came to fruition with the help of lawyers (at a cost of course) and with help from their new label.
In reading through the dumpster fire of commentary on Megan’s particular situation, media and business transaction attorney (key word, ATTORNEY) Nick Rosenberg had this to say in a Twitter chat with rapper Big Pooh about contracts:
More than anyone, record labels know that circumstances are everything. They are masters at taking advantage of situations in ways that undermine artists who in most instances have no experience with industry dealings.
Megan’s situation is also not in a vacuum. There are probably more artists than we know of trucking their way through a terrible deal and trying to make the best of it. A certain level of transparency being part of the reason for Megan’s success probably influenced her to go public. She may have also thought releasing the information would encourage a helpful outcry from fans.
Instead, too many people, including what I can imagine were hardcore fans just five minutes ago, are now all of a sudden either legal advisers or contract attorneys, attacking Megan’s intelligence and laughing at her trouble. The word “broke” has been coming down on her with the same swiftness and frequency that insults come from President Cheeto’s twitter account.
My grandmother has a saying for instances like this. “People are like crabs. They don’t care whose ass they jump on.”
Bandwagon mentality parades itself around like a cancer. So few people are willing to think independently of the crowd. Mean spirited people pile themselves together and jump on the ass of anything in their path because it’s what everyone else is doing.
Dysfunction has become so attached to “the culture” that snark and meanness goes viral. Kindness, humility, and even normalcy have become unrecognizable and are therefore ignored in spaces where they are needed the most.
During this time, Megan’s talent and her tenacity should be celebrated. Compassion should be sent in her direction.
Artists should of course look out for themselves first and always take caution, so their responsibility in self care is not eliminated in situations like these, but if the average person is honest, we don’t know the half of what goes on behind closed industry doors.
If those that align with “the culture” are as strong and powerful as they think, the crass judgement and inflated assessments being spewed from their devices would be pointed at the music industry, not at an artist who just wants the chance to fully do what she loves, and what she is clearly good at.
In the end of it all, Megan will be fine. In the face of hardship black women show time and time again that they can win, and I personally can not wait for Megan to shut the vapid mutterings of “the culture” the fuck up.