A few days ago it was reported that legendary New York rap group A Tribe Called Quest were selling 1.5% of the group’s royalties on their first five studio albums as a NFT.
Now, Tribe DJ and producer Ali Shaheed Muhammad has taken to Facebook to clarify that the members have not “partnered with” the Royalty Exchange company, but rather two lawyers who represented the group during their negotiations with Jive Records are exploiting a clause they inserted into the contract that guarantees them a percentage of Tribe’s royalties, a clause that Tribe didn’t know about until they began recording 1991’s The Low End Theory.
“Neither Ed or Ron ever told us about this bullshit language in the agreement,” Muhammad says in his statement. “It was unwarranted and where I come from ‘crooked.’ Ed sued us and he lost. He appealed the case. He was rich and had deep pockets to litigate. We however were not rich. We were kids with a dream, an album slowly selling and deeply in debt to our record company.”
“We were determined not to be taken advantage of by PPX Enterprises,” Muhammad continues. “We wanted to fight on. Jive offered to help us with our lack of capital to litigate the appeal however they required us to sign a sixth album with them. Without any other means to get this (do not use slanderous adjectives) entity out of our lives, we signed for the 6th album, added Phife to the contract and Jive made the PPX issue disappear or so we thought.”
Not to get off track, but it’s interesting that Phife wasn’t originally a part of Tribe’s contract. But more importantly, the NFT looks to be a case of, as Muhammad succinctly puts at the end of his statement, “fuckery” in the music business, adding unknown addendums to contacts that screw over young artists.
Muhammad explains that, had the surviving Tribe members been aware of the sale, they would have bought their royalty percentage back directly, but instead it was sold to Jive Records, who are now auctioning it off.
You can read Muhammad’s entire statement down below.
“Not Frigging True
On June 29, 2021 Billboard wrote an article that stated “Royalty Exchange has partnered with A Tribe Called Quest to auction off 1.5% share of the sound recording royalties from the hip-hop group’s first five studio albums.”
At the time Billboard knew those words were not true but worded the story in a way to gain clicks 🤦🏾♂️ They have now changed the article.
Other “journalistic” publications took the original newsfeed and ran with the misleading headline.
No member of A Tribe Called Quest has entered into any partnership with Royalty Exchange. PERIOD!
Not For Tales:
There’s so much of the journey I don’t talk about as I strive to live each day in the now. I let the art speak for the yesterday’s and prayers speak for any missteps and guides for the tomorrow.
I will take a walk in the past today so the fans know what they are buying.
In 1989 a dream unfolds. Two teenagers sign a 5 album recording contract with Jive Records.
Q-Tip and I were represented by Ron Skoler and Ed Chalpin. Ed owned PPX Enterprises, google that ish. We had absolutely no affiliation with either of these gentlemen other than them representing us as our lawyer/“agent” in negotiating the deal with Jive.
PPX aka Ed Chalpin added a clause to our agreement stating they get paid a percentage of our recording fund EVERY time we commenced to record a new album. We did not discover this hidden clause until we commenced to record The Low End Theory. We disputed this clause. Neither Ed or Ron ever told us about this bullshit language in the agreement. It was unwarranted and where I come from “crooked.” Ed sued us and he lost. He appealed the case. He was rich and had deep pockets to litigate. We however were not rich. We were kids with a dream, an album slowly selling and deeply in debt to our record company.
We were determined not to be taken advantage of by PPX Enterprises. We wanted to fight on. Jive offered to help us with our lack of capital to litigate the appeal however they required us to sign a sixth album with them. Without any other means to get this (do not use slanderous adjectives) entity out of our lives, we signed for the 6th album, added Phife to the contract and Jive made the PPX issue disappear or so we thought.
It wasn’t until reading this incomplete article by Billboard on June 29, 2021 that I learned PPX Enterprises wasn’t entirely out of our business. Apparently PPX sold their share of a settlement they made with Jive Records to an individual whom entered into a partnership with Royalty Exchange. Be clear that is the NFT that was created and auctioned.
Had we known this percentage of our art was out there we would have bought it directly from PPX Enterprises as it should have never been sold by Jive Records.
In the immortal words of Chris Lighty, “fuckery”
#4080 @billboard @complex @okayplayer #jazzisdead “