Last week, Psalm One did an interview with Minneapolis' City Pages talking about her exclusion from the recent Rhymesayers 20th Anniversary show at the Target Arena. In the Q+A Psalm chastised the label for excluding their lone female rap artist from the performance and went on to list several grievances she's had with the label over the years. In response, the independent label's head, Brent “siddiq” Sayers wrote an impassioned reply to her on Facebook yesterday, we pulled a few of the quotables:
As her album cycle began to wind down and the audience hadn’t responded like I’d hoped, it became clear that even with everything we put into the project, Psalm’s album wasn’t on track to recoup what we spent. My gut told me that she needed more time to find herself artistically and the level of business we were doing together wasn’t sustainable. Pouring money into releasing albums on this scale and not being able to sell enough to break even would mean, not only losing the money we put up, but also that Psalm wouldn’t make any money from these albums. Instead of exercising our option to release her next album, I suggested that she build off of the attention we were able to generate and take her own path for the foreseeable future. If she scaled her expenses to reflect the demand for her music, she could earn enough money to keep going. I kept the door open to keep sending me music so if anything made sense in the future, we could explore it.
Psalm continues to use the Rhymesayers name and reputation to her benefit, as well as take shots at us publicly when it’s of benefit to her. The timing and tone of her interview strike me as insincere. She doesn’t offer any self reflection or critique. She tells the story as if she’s done everything right and the label who invested in her has left her out because of her identity, and that’s just not true.
It’s not a retrospective of our entire catalogue and Psalm isn’t the only artist who isn’t on the bill. We’re not deleting her from our history. Rhymesayers is built on personal relationships more than anything and the relationship with Psalm doesn’t feel genuine. While I mentioned the idea of the concert to Psalm earlier this year, she was never invited or uninvited. After considering some of the interactions we’ve had recently including strained relationships with other artists, we opted not to have that energy in the building. Out of respect I personally called Psalm prior to announcing the show to discuss our position but got no answer or return call.
Sayers goes on to offer up some heartfelt thoughts on his own failings as a label head and the general lack of women on his roster and the rosters of hip-hop labels across the country. While we certainly can't know which truth is verbatim, it is sad to see this dirty laundry aired so publicly. Psalm did respond as well, asserting that Sayers was the first person to call her a dyke, among other accusations.
The whole thing kind of calls to mind the often grated relationships between artists and imprints. The recent spat between Closed Sessions and Alex Wiley that devolved for a couple of months before shaping up lately and was similarly a negative for both parties. With social media and whatnot these days, any message can get misconstrued, just ask Jeb Bush's Presidential campaign, but regardless of who's right in this particular situation it appears the time has come for everyone to move on.