There was a big article in the Guardian yesterday in which Kelis accuses the Neptunes of cheating her out of her publishing. Perhaps you’ve heard about it. It was all over Twitter.
Kelis claims that, when she signed with the Neptunes, they told her that they’d split the proceeds from her albums three ways: one-third for Kelis, one-third for Pharrell and one-third for the Asian guy.
It wasn’t until she was a few albums deep into her career, she says, that she realized that she wasn’t making any money at all from album sales. It took her a while to notice because she was still making money from touring.
To this day, she says she hasn’t made any money from her first two albums. I wasn’t even that she had any albums other than the ones she made with the Neptunes back in the early to mid ‘00s, so she probably hasn’t made much money from album sales period.
Arguably, the Neptunes should have been receiving more than a third each anyway, since they were the main reason anyone even knew who she was. In 2002, the Neptunes could have recorded the sound that a ham sandwich makes, put it over one of their beats, and went platinum. Kelis was a very attractive woman, but not in a way that appeals to most black guys. (Black guys who prefer height-weight proportional women tend to date white women, and there might be a lesson in that.)
Admittedly, I didn’t read the article, because, as black people used to say back in the 1980s, who I look like? But it sounds to me like Kelis signed a bad contract, which of course is her fault, not the Neptunes’ fault.
I’m assuming that this contract was written by lawyers who were working for the Neptunes, and of course they were gonna try to get the Neptunes as much money as they could—not because they care about the financial well-being of “people of color” but because they would receive a percentage.
If I were a lawyer, and if I didn’t think it would get me disbarred, I’d try to get a female artist to sign a contract in which she agreed to give me a blowski every day of the week. If she refused, I’d have her arrested for breach of contract.
[After the mixed response to this week’s Members Only™ email, on Kobe Bryant, I feel it’s necessary to point out that I’m just kidding. I wouldn’t actually do this, nor do I think Kobe would allow a baby to pilot a helicopter. Jeez!]
If Kelis had the sense that God gave geese, she would have handed the contract to her own lawyer, who could have marked it up, insisting that Kelis receive the 33% that the Neptunes already agreed to. It’s quite possible that the Neptunes never saw the contract that Kelis signed and that, if they had, they wouldn’t have had a problem with it being altered to reflect the terms that they’d agreed upon.
But I’m actually more concerned about Kelis casting aspersions on the black man’s character. In an excerpt of the article that I read via screencap, she said that she was throwing the Neptunes and also Nas under a bus because she no longer feels obligated to defend black men, or something to that effect.
I guess my question is, what’s Bol got to do with it? The contract she signed was almost certainly written by a certain kind of white person, I’m not saying which (unless it was Combat), and Nas’ alleged abusive behavior, if there was any, was likely caused by alcohol, so that’s also white people’s fault. (I really should have been a lawyer!)
There’s two people in the Neptunes, a black guy and an Asian guy. And yet, Twitter yesterday was full of people saying, I can’t believe Pharrell robbed Kelis of her publishing.
I suppose it’s a testament to how far we’ve come as a society that people wouldn’t assume that the Asian guy was the one who played a joke.
Take it easy on yourself,