Rappers love to threaten to retire.
But if and when Kanye West makes that threat, he will be threatening to break his contract with EMI, which states he isn't allowed to retire. The contract reads ...
"You (Mr. West) hereby represent and warrant that to [EMI] that You will, throughout the Term as extended by this Modification, remain actively involved in writing, recording and producing Compositions and Major Label Albums, as Your principle occupation. At no time during the Term will you seek to retire as a songwriter, recording artist or producer or take any extended hiatus during which you are not actively pursuing Your musical career in the same basic manner as You have pursued such career to date. (The preceding representation shall not be deemed to prevent You from taking a vacation of limited duration.)"
West signed the publishing deal in 2003. He's been suing to break away from it, citing California Labor Code section 2855, which limits personal service contracts to no more than seven years.
If he prevails, he will own all of his publishing after October of 2010. EMI will counter that under Federal law authors must wait 35 years after the date of publication to reclaim rights.