British singer Rita Ora sues to leave Jay Z label

British singer Rita Ora performs at the Bambi awards on Nov 12, 2015 in Berlin.
British singer Rita Ora performs at the Bambi awards on Nov 12, 2015 in Berlin. PHOTO: AFP

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - British singer Rita Ora, a onetime protegee of rap mogul Jay Z, filed a lawsuit Thursday seeking to leave his company, charging that his interests have wandered elsewhere.

The Albanian-born artist remains popular in Britain, where she was a judge on the latest season of The X Factor music competition, but has not released an album since her 2012 debut.

In a lawsuit filed in a Los Angeles court, Ora said she had multiple records that she hoped to release but was hamstrung by her contract with Jay Z's Roc Nation.

Ora, now 25, was an early signing when Jay Z in 2008 set up Roc Nation, a label and entertainment promotion company.

But Ora noted that Roc Nation was not a full-service label, instead needing distribution tie-ups with major players. Without naming him directly, she said that Jay Z has since turned to other pursuits such as the Tidal streaming service.

"Roc Nation's initial support for Rita waned as it diverted its focus from a record label business into other ventures, launching various endeavours including a sports management firm and agency and the Tidal Music streaming service," the lawsuit said.

"When Rita signed, Roc Nation and its senior executives were very involved with her as an artist," it said, adding that the company had transformed to the point where "she no longer had a relationship with anyone at the company." Ora said that her contract forbade her from taking her music elsewhere but that Roc Nation considered her under contract until at least 2019.

The lawsuit said that Ora should have the right to leave Roc Nation as of Friday under a longtime California labour code that sets seven years as the maximum amount of time for a contract in which a person cannot change employers.

Ora also sought an unspecified amount of damages from Roc Nation, saying the company would take 20 percent of her income for performances that she said were not procured by the firm.

Roc Nation did not immediately comment on the lawsuit.

Despite the complaints Ora earlier this year released several tracks through Roc Nation including Poison, a dark dance track with references to heavy drinking that became a hit in Britain.