American R&B artist Eddington Again has requested that R&S Records Founder Renaat Vandepapeliere remove his June 2019 EP, Damiani3, from the catalogue of their Apollo Records ambient imprint. In an ensuing email exchange, Vandepapeliere made comments deemed racially insensitive by many before agreeing to terminate their contract. The Belgian tastemaker has now publicly apologized.
In a statement obtained by Resident Advisor, Eddington Again said that he had pushed to cut ties with Apollo a year and a half ago following a dispute between Vandepapeliere and the A&R that introduced them. “That was the first time I realized that I needed to part ways with the label,” he said. “Since then, there have been several times I’ve felt disrespected and disregarded by Renaat and Andy Whittaker at R&S.”
In addition to late royalty statements for what he said were incorrect splits, Eddington Again said he took issue with the label’s dealings with Black artists and silence amid worldwide 2020 Black Lives Matter protests. He aired the concerns with Vandepapeliere over email, and in a September 24th string of communications the label boss defended R&S Records’ business practices. Vandepapeliere used language that sparked outcry when the “Sweet” singer/songwriter shared screen shots of the exchange on social media.
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Today in my ongoing dispute with the owner of @randsrecords about getting my contract terminated this was @renaatvandepapeliere response to not posting anything about the movement for black lives and his reason for not having any women and only two black artist out of more than 20 on the label 🤢
In addition to comments like “I sign music I can find – I don’t sign color mate,” Vandepapeliere referred to a musician he planned to sign as a “full pure breed black artist.” He also dismissed Eddington Again’s concerns of being stuck in the label. “As an artist you should make music and develop each day and find a label good for you,” he wrote. “Nothing wrong about it.”
After details of the exchange went viral and elicited backlash from members of the electronic music community, Vandepapeliere agreed to return release Eddington Again’s recordings on the condition that he stop accusing R&S Records of racism. “If we are willing to return your recordings to you, it is only right that we receive some goodwill from you too,” reads a September 25th email shared by the artist. “Accordingly, we would expect you to refrain from continuing to make such allegations and also remove the existing offensive posts.”
The posts remain up – but by September 29th, R&S Records proceeded to remove Damiani3 from digital service providers anyways. On the same day, Eddington Again uploaded the EP to Bandcamp.
Vandepapeliere shared a statement of apology the following day. He wrote that the label was committed to providing a platform for artists of all races, genders and sexualities, attributing his choice of words to the language barrier between him and Eddington Again.
“In the heat of my personal email exchange with Eddington Again I answered from a place of passion and emotion. This was impulsively motivated by the love that I have for both R&S Records and a newly signed artist that I’m most impressed with,” reads a passage. “In Dutch, the questionable metaphor at hand is used to express a passion for innate talent, true artistry. However, the haste with which I reacted caused me not to consider its different resonance in English – also I failed to see it’s destructive connotations, a decision that I now cannot meet with anything else than deep regret.”
Vandepapeliere also promised to educate himself on matters of systemic racism. “As an independent record label, R&S Records has always been a platform for people of all orientations and backgrounds – subsequently, our label is nowhere without efforts to accommodate this diversity from a place of heartfelt care and concern,” his statement went on.
Race and Dance Music
Following the May 25th death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, Black Lives Matter protests erupted in every U.S. state and numerous countries around the world. The events renewed focus on conversations on race and dance music – and some brands found themselves on the wrong side of the narrative.
In June, the organizers of Awakenings Online Weekender were criticized for failing to book Black artists to play the digital event. That same month, Native Instruments voiced their support of the Black Lives Matter movement – but the post backfired when former BIPOC employees shared accounts of how they were ignored when raising concerns about how a 2017 promotion tokenized a Black artist. The software and gear manufacturer announced new measures for “improving diversity and inclusion” in July.
Despite R&S and Apollo Records’ perceived silence amid the Black Lives Matter protest, Vandepapeliere himself expressed support for the movement as it unfolded in the spring. On May 30th, he uploaded an image macro as the banner image for his own Facebook page that suggested solidarity with Black protestors. He has not shared specific plans to address the issues raised in regards to his label’s business practices since the late September controversy.