Rita Ora sues to leave Jay Z label

LOS ANGELES • British singer Rita Ora, a one-time protegee of rap mogul Jay Z, filed a lawsuit on Thursday seeking to leave his company Roc Nation, 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 she has not released an album since her 2012 debut.

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

Ora, now 25, was an early signee when Jay Z in 2008 set up Roc Nation, a label and entertainment promotion company. But she noted that Roc Nation is not a full-service label, but needs 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.

"When Rita signed, Roc Nation and its senior executives were very involved with her as an artist," the lawsuit said, adding that the company had transformed to the point where "she no longer had a relationship with anyone at the company".

She said her contract forbade her from taking her music elsewhere and Roc Nation considered her under contract until at least 2019.

The lawsuit said she should have the right to leave Roc Nation as of yesterday 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.

She also sought an unspecified amount of damages from Roc Nation, saying the company would take 20 per cent 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 released several tracks through the company earlier this year, including Poison, a dance track that became a hit in Britain.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 19, 2015, with the headline 'Rita Ora sues to leave Jay Z label'. Print Edition | Subscribe