By Ryan Velez
The Daily Mail reports that the estate of deceased singer Prince recently responded to a $40 million offer from 46-year old rapper-turned-mogul Jay-Z. The offer would be for the rights to the unreleased songs from Prince. TMZ reported the official response, turning away Jay-Z’s generous offer. The letter from the estate made it clear that they did not want “Roc Nation to exploit any of the intellectual property assets of the Estate.”
In addition to the money, more details of Jay-Z’s bid for the unreleased tracks have been revealed in recent weeks. Last month, Jay-Z flew out Prince’s sister Tyka Nelson and her husband Maurice Phillips to New York to extend the offer in person, only to encounter a further snag. Tyka does not have full say over the rights to the songs, and any deal she would have made would also have had to be approved by both the estate trust as well as Prince’s other siblings. When Prince dies, he did not leave behind a formal will, and there has been an ongoing struggle within the family since then to try and determine who exactly is entitled to what from his estate. Several people also came forward to claim that they were secret relatives of the singer, but as of yet, none of these have been confirmed.
In addition, Jay-Z wanted to try and obtain further streaming rights to Prince’s music, but this particular plan may be linked to a whole other legal tangle not just with Prince’s estate, but with Jay-Z as well. The estate, in addition to their rejection of the offer, mentioned that they had not received $750,000 to satisfy the 2015 deal they made with Jay-Z to release HitNRun Phase One, Prince’s last album before passing. In addition, the streaming service Tidal, which Jay-Z has a financial stake in, was also under fire from the estate, with them saying that the company did not have the rights to stream 15 of his albums after his death.
While Jay-Z’s business shrewdness is well-known, his interest in Prince’s music could be both from a creative and financial standpoint. The rapper has sampled Prince songs several times in his own music, including Excuse Me Miss, a 2002 track he collaborated on with Pharrell which utilized parts of Walk Don’t Walk, a track off the late singer’s 1991 album Diamonds and Pearls. Another example is Welcome to the Jungle, a 2011 collaboration with Kanye West that sampled Prince’s When We’re Dancing Close And Slow off the singer’s self-titled 1979 album.