By Alex HudsonRZA should be riding high following the release of his feature film debut, The Man with the Iron Fists, but instead, the Wu-Tang hero is spending the holiday season contending with a lawsuit from a former musical collaborator.
The suit comes from Dutch singer Thea Van Seijen, who RZA recruited to perform on his 2005 song "Baby Boy," plus his 2007 soundtrack from Afro Samurai. According to TMZ, she's suing RZA over unpaid royalties for 14 tracks the pair worked on over the years. The singer, who is sometimes credited simply as Thea, reportedly claims she's only been given a fraction of what she's owed for the songs.
RZA's publicist has already issued a statement [via Pitchfork] to shoot down the vocalist's claims. According to this rebuttal, RZA discover Van Seijen when she was on the streets in Sweden and helped to launch her music career. She was hired and paid at the time, and her claims for more money stem from her ignorance about the music industry.
The statement emphasizes RZA's charitable nature in helping a singer who was reportedly struggling at the time they met. Now that he is forging a new career in the film industry, he is allegedly a target for someone looking to make a quick buck. What's more, the songs Thea worked on apparently weren't very commercially successful.
Read the full statement below.
RZA and his entire family have done nothing but help Thea Van Seijen over the years. He even welcomed her into his home and gave her all the resources and money she needed to start a career in music (and eat!). She was a streetwalker in Sweden brought to his attention by a family member many years ago who literally pulled her off the street and encouraged her talent as a singer. I met her back then. She was eager and just trying to sing. RZA helped her by collaborating with her and put her on a handful of tracks as a 'work for hire'. Very common in the music industry. This is the second time she has tried to knock RZA down for money she isn't owed. She is a fish out of water. She has no idea what she is doing and thinks she can build a case for herself in the media and have it hold up in court. Meanwhile, she is dragging RZA's name through the mud conveniently positioned during a time when RZA's film career is blossoming.
She has no industry precedent on pay scale and to our knowledge she is not an established artist beyond the work RZA gave her a shot to shine on. She is taking legal action out of desperation and trying to use RZA again to build a name for herself. She was paid for the work she did 'for hire' and credited where it was deserved.
I've seen RZA do nothing but spend money, time, and energy over the years trying to give artists like her a chance. She failed and has come back to suck the well dry again. RZA is a great man. This is what he does. He connects the dots in the universe and helps people with nothing in return. This is why we all know and love his talents. He certainly has nothing to gain by holding pennies from some random featured guest vocalist. Those tracks she worked on never had any commercial success anyway. She is trying to feed off his good name.