Snoop Dogg (Death Row Records)
In April 1998, Snoop Dogg graced the cover of The Source with the caption, "Snoop Dogg Wants To Leave Death Row. Can He Cut It On His Own?" Prior to that, the hip hop veteran was on the December 1996-January 1997 cover of Vibe as the "Last Man Standing". Tupac was murdered, Dr. Dre left Death Row and the "Lay Low" rapper had just beat a major murder case. With Death Row Records swiftly declining the "D-O-Double G" had gained clarity in regards to the most notorious record label in hip hop history.
In the issue of The Source mentioned above, Snoop Dogg spilled the tea on Death Row, claiming that Suge Knight cheated him out of royalties and would gift Death Row artists cars, jewelry and houses for reciprocity. In the summer of 1998 Snoop Dogg departed from Death Row, signing to Master P's imprint, No Limit Records. To further solidify his beef with Death Row/Suge Knight, Snoop Dogg took shots at the label in 2002 on his track "Pimp Slapp'd".
Young Jeezy (Def Jam Records)
In November 2013, Young Jeezy took shots at Def Jam Records on Twitter because he felt the label was lackadaisical when it came to promoting his new album. The award-winning artist ranted about the effort he put into his project and how his expression of displeasure and threat to leak his album was for his fans.
"Where @LA_Reid when u need him #RIPShakirStewart," tweeted the "And Then What" rapper, alluding to former Def Jam executives LA Reid and the late Shakir Stewart. LA Reid, who is currently the chairman and CEO of Epic Records and Shakir Stewart, who committed suicide, were both pivotal in solidifying Jeezy's deal with Def Jam. In a series of tweets, the Atlanta rapper then wrote, "N*ggas @ @DefJamRecords keep playing games if you want!"
Azealia Banks (Universal)
At the beginning of 2014, Harlem-bred rapper and singer Azealia Banks, known for controversy, begged to be dropped by her major label on Twitter. Taking it a step further than just complaining, the "212" rapper plead with Sony to buy her out of her contract with Universal Music.
"I'm really in hell here," the LaGuardia High School of Performing Arts attendee tweeted. "I've been gratefully riding off of mixtape fumes for the past two years ... [But] my fans really need some new music ... Universal needs to just hand me over to another label who knows what to do with me ... I'm tired of having to consult a group of old white guys about my black girl craft. They don't even know what they're listening for or to." The fashion muse, who also had beef with Lil Kim, Angel Haze, her ex-manager Troy Carter and various other artists, continued on to write, "Can someone at Sony buy me off of Universal please? ... I REALLY should have signed with Sony."
Kid Cudi (Universal Republic)
In 2012, Kid Cudi wasn't satisfied with the amount of support his label Universal showed his new album, WZRD. Like many artists, the Cleveland, Ohio rapper, born Scott Mescudi took to social media to express his frustration. Upset about Universal only shipping 55,000 copies of the album, Cudi used Twitter to vent.
"Ok so just a heads up, my weak ass label only shipped 55k physicals cuz they treated this like some indie side project tax right [sic] off. So i apologize on behalf of my weak ass major label," Cudi tweeted. "And I apologize for the lack of promo, again, my weak ass major label." The lonely stoner then went on to claim that the label tried to rush his project. "They tried to rush me thru this so i can just give em another MOTM, but guess what? Fuck that, next album is WZRD. MOTM3 on hold til 2014," he wrote. "Who mad??? not me and @DotDaGenius : )." The rapper continued his rant, claiming that Universal never even gave him and his producer and collaborator, Dot Da Genius a copy of the album. Following a few more tweets, he ended his rant asking Twitter, "What they gon’ do, spank me?"
Jadakiss (Def Jam Records)
In addition to Young Jeezy, Jadakiss tweeted how he felt to towards Def Jam Records on July 1, 2013. Unlike many other artists, the Yonkers rapper and member of The Lox simply wrote, "Invest in yourself FUCK A LABEL! @defjam!!! Big boy dialogue"
Angel Haze (Island/Republic Records)
Last December, Detroit-bred rapper Angel Haze not only aired out her record label on Twitter, but she also leaked her debut album, Dirty Gold. "Since they don't want to put it out this year, I will," Haze wrote. "Here's the album. Here is Dirty Gold. I hope you enjoy it." The "New York" rapper included a Soundcloud link to her album in the tweet, which was eventually removed. "Sorry to Island/Republic Records, but fuck you," the 22-year-old wrote before she leaked the album. "I got here doing this for my fans and if you guys don't feel the same, it won't stop me." Haze continued, "I don't care what happens after this. [The fans] will get the music they were promised. And you guys [the label] just may learn to keep your fucking word."
The disgruntled artist continued on her Twitter rant, voicing that it was annoying that her label couldn't keep their word on releasing her album that year if she had finished it before the summer. "I have gone to bat for this music. I have gone to bat for myself. I have literally sat fucking sleepless and starved crying over this shit," she said. "I turned down so much shit to be sure that I could finish this album because actually wanting something to me means doing all you can to be sure that it's attainable.
Eve (Interscope Records)
Actress and rapper Eve is yet another among a pool of artists frustrated with their record label. The pitbull in a skirt, blamed her former label, Interscope Records for the delay of her fourth studio album, Lip Lock. Although she left the imprint in 2010, in July 2012, she told Time.com, “I need another word for frustration. I’ve completely gone past frustration 100 times. It’s like with anything that you create – you just want to put out. Because it’s been so long for me, music has changed so much. It’s beyond frustration. I just really can’t wait till this record is out.”
Taking a more physically active route versus vocal, the Philadelphia-bred artist changed labels, management and lawyers. "It was delays on the label side -- I've switched management, I've switched labels, I've switched lawyers," the former Ruff Ryder continued to explain to Time.com. "And this was over years. And now I feel like the dust has finally settled and the team that I have now is the right team. Sometimes that's all it takes, for the stars to be aligned and the dust to settle. And I think we're there now." The newly engaged rapper, eventually released her album in 2013 independently.
50 Cent (Interscope Records)
Similar to Eve, Queens-bred rapper 50 Cent was disappointed in Interscope. The controversial artist blasted the record label on Twitter and threatened to leak a Dr. Dre single in 2011. “Man I’m not releasing a album i can’t believe Interscope is this fucked up right now. I apologize to all my fans,” he tweeted. “I will work with other artist on there [sic] projects but I will not put out another album,” he continued. “They dropped the ball with me one time to many.”
Out of spite, the G-unit rapper then said he would leak a song off of Dr. Dre's long-awaited album Detox. “I LOVE DRE but I’m putting his next single psycho out tomorrow at 2:00 #SK,” 50 wrote. “Your [sic] gonna love it its a big song I just don’t think it deserves a great set up sense they can’t seem to get it right when it comes to me.” As HNHH reported last month, 50 cent left Interscope Records and signed with Caroline/Capitol/UMG.
2 Chainz (Def Jam Records)
Def Jam Records just doesn't seem to stay out of hot water. Last September, Atlanta rapper 2 Chainz was "pissed" because the legendary imprint under shipped his new album, B.O.A.T.S 2: Me Time. During an interview with Hot 97's Angie Martinez, the hair weave killer stated that there was a lack of communication between himself and Def Jam executives. The "No Lie" rapper was afraid that his fans weren't going to be able to find a physical copy of his album.
Last spring, hip hop veteran and Geto Boys member, Scarface had a few things to say about record labels in general, particularly white label executives. During an interview with Hardknock.tv, the Houston native expressed that hip hop has been dominated by powerful white men who are conspiring to make black hip hop artists look "stupid".
"I feel like the people that are in control of what hip hop does is so fucking white and so fucking Jewish until they don't give a fuck about what the culture and the craft or what it really is. I don't know if them motherfuckers trying to…let me say it right because I want this to be as offensive as I can possibly make it for these old ass punks that's running these record labels," he ranted. "They're in these powerful positions to dictate what the black community hears and listens to. I fucking hate that shit, like that shit pisses me off. Like it's no fucking way that you could tell me that it's not a conspiracy against the blacks in hip hop because you put out fucking records that make us look stupid. You make us look dumb. You brainwash the generation of hip hop with this fucking crud." His following sentiments, mentioning old white men judging what's hot in hip hop mirrored those of Azealia Banks during her Twitter rant earlier this year.
HNHH highlights 10 rappers who've had beef with record labels.
In the world of hip hop "beef" isn't unusual, in fact it's customary. Some of the greatest and most historical moments in the culture and genre have been produced because of contention. Most disagreements are between two or more artists and/or producers, but from time to time artists have been in dispute with their record labels. And when rappers take to social media, or in some cases to wax, to air out label executives and record labels as a whole, things can get pretty interesting.
Reasoning behind this kind of controversy usually stems from a lack of promotion, shelved albums, the postponing of album releases, questionable contracts and outright shady practices. From Snoop to Dogg to Young Jeezy to Angel Haze to Azealia Banks, HNHH highlights 10 rappers who've had beef with their record labels.