In 2005, 18-year-old singer-songwriter Ke$ha moved to California and signed with producer Dr. Luke’s label, Kemosabe Records. After her 2009 breakthrough appearance on Flo Rida’s “Right Round,” she began creating her own music that would soon evolve into the album, “Animal,” which debuted as the number one album in the United States.
In 2011, Ke$ha and her mother testified under oath about any allegations involving Dr. Luke. They both denied that Dr. Luke engaged in sexual activity or drug use with Ke$ha . Now, it is 2016, and the court case is blowing up. Ke$ha is now claiming what she said under oath in 2011 was false.
In 2014, things started to change for Ke$ha . She filed suit against her producer, Dr. Luke, to be released from her contract. She accused him of drugging and raping her and also emotionally abusing her, which she claimed was the cause of her eating disorder. She wanted to be released from her contract with Kemosabe Records, but Dr. Luke also filed a counter-suit for defamation, claiming that Ke$ha ’s abuse allegations were falsified in an attempt to get out of the contract.
In January of 2014, Ke$ha checked into a treatment center because of her bulimia claims. She filed the lawsuit later that year. While this was happening, her mother spoke out about Dr. Luke, saying that he compared her daughter’s body to a refrigerator and told her she needed to lose a lot of weight.
This naturally raises questions of why Ke$ha waited 10 years to say anything about this alleged abuse. The main reason that has been released is that she still being sucked into this contract of six more albums. There has not been a way out of Dr. Luke’s grasp and the New York State Supreme Court does not seem to think that Ke$ha ’s allegations are grounds to negate her contract.
Ke$ha is in the minority among victims of sexual violence: 68% of assault victims never report anything to law enforcement. There are many reasons victims do not report anything to law enforcement, but the main ones are that they do not want people to know they have been sexually assaulted, they do not understand what constitutes rape, they are afraid the authorities will not believe them, and they are unsure of how much control they will have after reporting the assault. In Ke$ha ’s case, the judgments of the public and the court system determine the success of her music career. She waited a while to open up about the assault because she wanted to keep making music and did not want people’s opinions to change about her. When assault victims finally open up, they have to go back in time to a traumatic event and be picked apart by law enforcement and basically everyone else in the court system.
College campuses have been at the forefront of the debate about sexual assault policies for the past several years. Although this is the case, many students are also unaware of how traumatic the situation is and how upsetting assault can be. University freshman Haley Doty says, “This whole thing is crazy. The court case decision was definitely unfair, but then again, it’s hard to believe someone after they swore under oath. I guess [Ke$ha ] had to do what she felt was right at the time and she seems to have become a really strong woman.”
Another freshman, Nick Burris commented, “Ke$ha used to be one of those artists that never got the attention she deserved and now it’s happening again, but in a different way. She should definitely be able to leave her contract if the assault claim is true.”
Even though Ke$ha has yet to get a win in her battle, there are many celebrities that have shown support for her and the situation. Lady Gaga has been named one of the biggest supporters because she is a rape victim herself and knows how traumatic these experiences can be. Gaga told People Magazine, “I feel like she’s being very publicly shamed for something that happens in the music industry all the time, to women and men. I just want to stand by her side because I can’t watch another woman that went through what I’ve been through suffer.” Miley Cyrus, so angered by the situation that she could not put her feelings into words, re-posted a picture of a sign that reads, “Ke$ha –I am so angry for you. They were wrong. I’m so sorry.” Miley expressed herself and was furious with the judge’s decision to keep Kesha in her contract with Sony Music. Lorde tweeted about the situation saying, “standing with @KeshaRose through this traumatic, deeply unfair time. send good vibes her way everyone.” Taylor Swift, on the other hand, decided to help Kesha out in a quantitative way rather than just putting forward words of encouragement. Swift gave Ke$ha $250,000 to support her music career and help her get out of this horrible, long contract. The only supporters of Dr. Luke seem to be Sony Records and the New York Supreme Court, for now.
Many celebrities have gone through similar situations as Ke$ha , being abused in some way, shape, or form by the people involved in their record labels. Soulja Boy was pressured into signing an oppressive contract at the age of 16. The contract gave his ex-manager 5% of his income forever and 50% of copyright ownership to the label. Lady Gaga revealed recently that a former music producer also raped her and the situation did not hit her until a few years later. Other celebrities, such as TLC, N.W.A, Salt-N-Pepa, Little Richard, and contestants on American Idol have been in situations like these, whether it have to do with money or physical abuse.
On the other hand, some musicians have it easy and are able to get out of their contracts with ease. Former band mate of One Direction, Zayn Malik, got out of his contract with ease. “… by the time I decided to go, it just felt right on that day. I woke up on that morning, if I’m being completely honest with you, and was like, ‘I need to go home. I just need to be me now, because I’ve had enough,’” says Zayn to MTV, “I was with my little cousin at the time… and I was just, ‘Should I go home?’ And he was like, ‘If you want to go home, let’s go home.’ So we left.” Zayn Malik got up and decided to leave and was allowed to. Some aspects of society have been questioned forever, and this is one that needs more attention. Why can some singers do what they want so easily and others must suffer?
Since the judge went against Ke$ha in court on Feb. 19 and this has been one of her first cases, there is only so much she can do at this point. There have been a few scheduled protests in front of the Sony Music building, two of which have already passed. People stood outside and held up signs reading “#freekesha” or “Sony supports rape.” Some even had pictures on them comparing Dr. Luke to the devil. The protests might not be helping anyone in the grand scheme of things, but Ke$ha’s fans and supporters are definitely speaking out at the right times.
On May 5, there will be a phone conference with Luke’s countersuit against Ke$ha in New York. On May 16, Ke$ha will have her next court appearance in Los Angeles. Ke$ha does have an option to record for Sony without Dr. Luke, but it is a flimsy promise that she cannot take too seriously. Ke$ha could stray from Sony and not record music for them, or she could just record a third album with them, event though this is not what she really wants. A few other musicians, such as Jack Antonoff (from the band Fun) and Zedd, have offered to record new music with Ke$ha, but her songs would be “leaked”, and that’s not a very professional way to release music. From now until May, there will just be a whole lot of praying and waiting on Ke$ha’s part.