Kesha announced a new album this week and the first single, “Praying,” is being hailed as a strong, uplifting song from a singer still fighting for her freedom from a producer she says sexually and mentally abused her.
That producer, Dr. Luke, has issued a statement making sure everyone knows exactly just how involved he and his label, Kemosabe, have been in creating the album.
“Praying” features “confessional, defiant” lyrics, co-written by Kesha and Ryan Lewis, Ben Abraham and Andrew Joslyn, including “I had to learn how to fight for myself/and we both know all the truth I could tell,” which seems to be a pretty clear statement on her ongoing legal battles.
This is Kesha’s first full album in five years, a timeline that tracks with her ongoing court war with Dr. Luke. One of the key points of contention in this legal saga is whether Kesha was able to record free of Dr. Luke’s influence and whether he would have any involvement in her recording work—he and his legal team have sworn she’s free to move forward and release music; she’s argued she wouldn’t get the support from her label and that she wouldn’t be able to work with different producers while still under contract with him and Kemosabe.
As of this album’s release, set for August 11, Kesha is still contractually obligated to release two more albums with Kemosabe. Unless, of course, courts start ruling in her favour and release her from her contract, which she signed more than a decade ago.
Dr. Luke, through his attorneys, has released a statement making is clear that not only is he still involved in Kesha’s work, he was very much present in the writing and producing of this album.
“The reality is that for well over two years, Kesha chose—and it was entirely her choice—not to provide her label with any music. Kesha was always free to move forward with her music and an album could have been released long ago had she done so. She exiled herself,” according to the statement and published by Idolater, Buzzfeed and other websites.
Kesha eventually submitted 22 songs “created without any label consultation which were not in compliance with her contract” and which, by her team’s admission, “needed work,” the statement continues. Over the last several months, there were discussions between the label and her team to select the strongest material and finalize the album.
“A&R representatives of both Kemosabe and RCA have provided Kesha with detailed feedback in writing and in person on the tracks she provided to help her further develop the material,” the statement continues. Kesha has also agreed with Kemosabe and RCA on a list of producers who will work with her on these tracks, a studio has been reserved for these sessions and a budget for certain work provided.”
This might be standard operating procedure for any other artist with a label and producer. But to Kesha’s fans or the outside observer, it could also look like someone trying to assert his role and authority in the life and creative output of a singer trying to break out from underneath a controlling figure’s authority. When was the last time another producer or label felt the need to speak out and point to their involvement in a singer’s new album? Nothing comes to mind.