Jay-Z Rips Prince’s ‘Greedy’ Estate Handlers a New One on ‘Caught Their Eyes': 365 Prince Songs in a Year
To celebrate the incredibly prolific, influential and diverse body of work left behind by Prince, we will be exploring a different song of his (or in this case, a song about him) each day for an entire year with the series 365 Prince Songs in a Year.
Yesterday (June 30), Jay-Z released his 13th album, 4:44, on his streaming service Tidal. A verse from one of its songs, "Caught Their Eyes," is a slam at those managing Prince's estate for breaking the deal they had to put Prince's music exclusively on Tidal, beginning with 2015's HITNRUN.
“After one meeting, it was obvious that Jay-Z and the team he has assembled at Tidal recognize and applaud the effort that real musicians put in 2 their craft 2 achieve the very best they can at this pivotal time in the music industry," Prince said at the time. "Secondly, Tidal have honored Us with a non-restrictive arrangement that once again allows Us to continue making art in the fashion We’ve grown accustomed 2 and We’re Extremely grateful 4 their generous support. And lastly, in the tech-savvy, real-time world We all live in 2day, everything is faster. From its conception and that one & only meeting, HITNRUN took about 90 days 2 prepare its release. If that’s what freedom feels like, HITNRUN is what it sounds like.”
However, there was no legal paperwork between the two, and, in November 2016, seven months after Prince's death, his estate sued Jay-Z's management company, Roc Nation, claiming that Tidal “is exploiting many copyrighted Prince works” and may have breached their agreement. Three months later, Prince's music began showing up on other streaming services, including Spotify, Apple Music and Pandora.
In "Caught Their Eyes," Jay-Z singled out by name L. Londell McMillan, who served as an advisor to the estate, for his role in breaking the deal in search of greater profits by going to Spotify, Apple Music and Pandora.
"I sat down with Prince, eye to eye / He told me his wishes before he died / Now, Londell McMillan, he must be color blind / They only see green from them purple eyes," he said. Later in the verse, he added, "This guy had 'Slave' on his face / You think he wanted the masters with his masters? / You greedy bastards sold tickets to walk through his house / I'm surprised you ain't auction off the casket."
For his part, McMillan remained diplomatic and preferred not to defend himself. Yesterday, he tweeted, "Yes, I heard the track! Not focusing on a diss track now. Focused on not letting [Warner Bros.] control masters. I do like the beat. #Emancipation2"
McMillan was replaced in his capacity as an advisor this past April. It's believed that a deal he made to put much of Prince's catalog and unreleased music on Universal was responsible for his dismissal after the label claimed that McMillan gave them misleading information on the terms of Prince's existing contract with Warner Bros. Universal is trying to cancel the deal.
Prince Year by Year: 1977-2016 Photographs