Bob Lefsetz, respected music industry insider and pundit released an interesting letter via his newsletter the Lefsetz Letter. The memo is apparently from Nas to Def Jam heads, letting them know that he’s not thrilled with them and their decisions pertaining to his unreleased “Lost Tapes 2.” Here are some excerpts:
“With all do respect to you all, Nas is NOBODY’s slave. This is not the 1800’s, respect me and I will respect you.”
“The #1 problem with DEF JAM is pretty simple and obvious, the executives think they are the stars. You aren’t…. not even close. As a matter of fact, you wish you were, but it didn’t work out so you took a desk job. To the consumer, I COME FIRST. Stop trying to deprive them!”
“Don’t get in the way of my creativity. We are aligned with the stars here, this is a movement.”
It appears that Nas wants them to release his “Lost Tapes 2” project, have it count against his contract with them as an album, and that they promote it properly (to paraphrase, he explains that $200k isn’t a real budget). It doesn’t sound like too much to ask for from a huge label, if it were 1997. If he’s not happy with how they’re treating or not treating this project, here (depending on the terms of his agreement with Def Jam) are a few options: bundle the album with tour tickets- it adds a premium to the ticket price but also adds value for those who go out to see him live (Ozzy did it was Ozzfest 2010), give it away for free with the purchase of a shirt (essentially, what Mos Def did with versions of his last release), give it away with daily newspapers (it work for Prince once, and he’s doing it again), or find another interesting way to gift it and build a further bond with current fans, and possibly gain new ones.
In regards to his comment about the executives thinking they’re stars. Some are stars, however, it’s quite interesting that upon a visit to Def Jam’s site after clicking the “About Us” link, visitors are brought to a bio for the head of the label, L.A. Reid. Def Jam has a rich history of releasing some of the greatest artists in Hip Hop history, yet this section focuses on an executive. With few exceptions (including Jay Z), Nas is correct, fans don’t care to know executives.