Talib Kweli Calls Out Babygrande Records
By now everyone should all be well aware of industry rule #4080 — that is, of course, that record industry people are shady. And, that mantra applies to labels both big and small, it seems, following some more-recent transgressions. Talib Kweli took to Twitter today to bring some light to such behavior and to call out Babygrande Records — specifically, the label’s owner — for some shady tactics and marketing that they’ve used with respect to Reflection Eternal (Talib Kweli and Hi-Tek)’s music.
“Chuck from [Babygrande Records] is a schmuck,” tweeted Kweli in frustration about Chuck Wilson, the label’s founder. “He puts out an album called Reflection Eternal 6 days after we drop [our album,] with old [Hi-Tek] tracks. Scumbag.”
The album that Kweli is referencing, Babygrande Presents: The Reflection Eternal Collection, was released on May 25 — 11 days after the release of Reflection Eternal’s official sophomore album, Revolutions Per Minute, according to Amazon.com. Babygrande’s album contained no new material from the two artists, but instead featured 10 Hi-Tek-produced tracks that were released under their imprint. All but one featured Kweli, but none of the tracks were from an official Reflection Eternal release.
The close proximity of release dates — as Kweli’s anger seems to imply — appears to be an underhanded tactic to confuse consumers into purchasing this album instead of the official album (they both appear under Amazon’s list when searching for “Reflection Eternal”), or at the very least, an attempt to gain exposure on the coattails of Kweli and Tek’s own marketing efforts.
The Reflection Eternal Collection seems to be released without knowledge or consent from any of the artists — which would imply that Babygrande holds rights to the original recordings.
“People like this guy Chuck are the reason why the business is fucked up,” Kweli continued in his next tweet, “Please dont support snakes and make sure you cop the real.”
Kweli isn’t alone in his frustration toward the eight-year-old label.
Previous artists signed to the imprint have publicly expressed their resentment for the politics or business tactics of Babygrande. Most notably, Jedi Mind Tricks member Vinnie Paz was very vocal about his disdain for the label toward the end of his deal with them.
“I’m just waiting to get out of this slave contract with Babygrande,” he said about the impending release of a new Army of the Pharaohs album (The Unholy Terror, 2010), in a 2009 interview with HouseOfHipHop.nl, a Netherlands-based hip-hop website. “They’re just dirtbags and you can’t rob people like that, man, motherfuckers get killed that way. But I owe them what I owe them and I’m a man of my word and I’m going to give them what they’re owed.”
Jean Grae, now signed to Kweli’s Blacksmith label, also had her own share of issues with Babygrande.
Upon the announcement of “her” 2008 album, The Evil Jenius, with production two-some Blue Sky Black Death, it soon surfaced that Grae wasn’t even aware of the album’s creation. Not only was she not aware, but she wasn’t getting paid for its release — not a cent.
According to her reports, the label had used recordings of Grae’s that they owned from her record contract and placed them over BSBD beats to create the album. She had no knowledge of this before the album was promoted publicly.
And, this was the second time it happened.
In 2007, Babygrande released a Jean Grae album, titled The Orchestral Files, which Grae also contended was “unauthorized” — the label owned the material, and she had no control over the album’s creation or release, she said.
It’s unclear what sparked Kweli’s current rant about the underhanded tactics of Babygrande records, considering that it’s been nearly six months since the release of the two coinciding albums. But, it seems apparent that Kweli has plenty to be upset about.
He ended his rant with a final few choice words: “Fuck [Babygrande]. I dont even say that in public usually, but fuck them and everybody who got anything to do with them,” he tweeted.
“Thanks, I’m done.”
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