A few years back, Kendrick Lamar recorded a verse for relatively unknown Canadian rapper Jonathan Emile.
K.dot had liked the concept for Emile's track 'Heaven Help Us' (it ended up being about Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin) and Emile paid him for the feature.
Then TDE suddenly stopped communicating with Emile, and hit him with copyright claims when he tried to post the track.
So Emile took them to small claims court in Canada, winning a $6,400 settlement.
But he says TDE and its parent UMG is still aggressively trying to block the song. So he addressed Lamar in lengthy open letter published on DJBooth.net. In it, he appeals to Kendrick, asking him to call off TDE and let him go on with his career.
Here's an excerpt:
Still, your label, through its lawyers, has refused to honor the court’s decision. They have continued the bullying and intimidation in an attempt to strong-arm me. They have since filed a retraction to stay the execution of the judgment. After the judgment was handed down, I was phoned by your legal team and I was asked to enter into a settlement agreement — of course, I cannot discuss any of these details. The bullying, intimidation and exploitation I have experienced by your team and by your label is not something I expected. A day after sharing the first version of this letter with select media outlets for consideration, I received a phone call from the court informing me that the application to revoke judgment was withdrawn. Still, UMG has not signed the documentation to close the legal procedures, admit fault and obey the court order. In essence, this reveals UMG will continue their legal action to undermine my rights as an artist and by extension the Canadian Charter. I am of the belief that my case—this letter—is relevant to the rights of independent artists, specifically, to fight false copyright claims and UMG’s misconduct. It would be a mistake to dismiss this as simply an isolated incident. By removing my song, TDE broke the law and set a small legal precedent for artists whose work is being silenced and censored. By silencing "Heaven Help Dem,” for whatever reason—artistic, business or personal—you and your team have violated the rights of independent artists and broken the original contract/exchange we had. Now, Universal Music Group will attempt to have this case thrown out. The special relationship that major labels have with YouTube, SoundCloud and other services was abused. What TDE did opens the door to hundreds, perhaps thousands, of independent artists being compensated for false copyright claims made by major labels.What do you think of TDE and UMG's tactics?
Here's the song, which is still up.