We’d be remiss if we didn’t shine light on the brilliant achievements that Black women have contributed to the world. Since the beginning of time, #BlackGirlMagic has existed before we even made it a hashtag. From Harriet Tubman leading our ancestors towards freedom to Jewel Burks Solomon leading startups at Google, Black women are lit. 

Often times, Black women use the same resilience displayed when guiding us all, to maneuver through the murky waters in their own lives— i.e. restrictive music contracts. In light of Megan Thee Stallion being prohibited from releasing new music, after asking to renegotiate her contract with 1501 Entertainment, we’ve decided to compile a list of Black women who’ve been able to find success despite signing bad record deals.

1. Megan Thee Stallion

 According to “Thee Stallion,” as she’s affectionately known by her fans, she tried to renegotiate her contract after becoming aware of certain legalities. Taking this hot button issue to court, Thee Stallion has been allowed a temporary restraining order (TRO) against 1501 Entertainment and its CEO Carl Crawford. Additionally, the judge ordered the label to not take any actions that would negatively impact the release, distribution and sale of her new music that’s scheduled to be released  Friday, March 6. The hearing on whether or not to move forward with the TRO is scheduled for March 13.


2. Kash Doll

These bad label contracts are “For Everybody” — even Kash Doll. In 2015, the Motor City Femcee signed a contract with BMB Records. Not paying for her studio time and booking her for free performances were just a few offenses that her former label committed.  Kash eventually moved to Atlanta where she released her first official mixtape, Keisha vs. Kash Doll. The mixtape, available to stream for only a few days, was taken down by BMB. Those next two years were fraught with legal battles and the rapper being unable to release original music until the end of 2017. Since then, Kash Doll has managed to sign a lucrative deal with Republic Records, release her first album Stacked and make it on the Billboard charts.


3. Toni Braxton

It’s common knowledge that Toni Braxton is a legend. The “Un-Break My Heart” songstress has become a household name since hitting the scene in 1993. What might be unknown to most, however, is her troubles with LaFace/Arista Records. While her first recording contract reached $170 million in worldwide sales, Braxton received a royalty check for not even two thousand dollars. She filed for bankruptcy in 1998 because of this, but it wasn’t the end of her career. Braxton has gone on to star in The Braxton Family Values, a successful reality show with her family, release more albums and become a celebrity spokesperson for Autism Speaks.


4. TLC

When we discuss musicians locked in bad contracts, TLC is at the top of that roster. While the 90s superstar group was encouraging us to not chase waterfalls, a bad deal had them chasing checks. The trio alleges that after selling $10 million in records, each of them received $15,000. They also alleged that their signed agreement gave their manager ownership of the TLC name for which they, allegedly, had to pay $3 million to recoup. Despite these shortcomings, TLC went on to win a multitude of awards, including four Grammys and a Legend Award at the MTV Video Music Awards (VMA) Japan.


5. Kelis

In the last decade, Kelis has advocated for young women to embrace being “Bossy” and to use their “Milkshake” however they see fit. This decade, she’s advocating for young women musicians to be aware of tawdry label deals. In January, Kelis alleged that she made no money off the first two albums of her career. The “Bossy” singer alleges that The Neptunes, who produced the two albums, lied to her and tricked her along with their management and lawyers. While Kelis has been transparent about all of this, she’s also opened up about graduating from the esteemed culinary school Le Cordon Bleu and having her own show on The Cooking Channel.


6. Salt 'N Pepa

Salt ‘N Pepa, the legendary duo known for hits like “Push It” and “Shoop” have also had their fair share of music contract issues. An agreement with Noise In The Attic Productions for the group’s fourth and fifth albums somehow translated to the company collecting royalties from the iconic pair’s previous hits. After settling the poor arrangement in court, the bad contract was reversed with Salt ‘N Pepa getting their royalties back. Thankfully, they decided to “push it” until they received their rightful coins.


7. Xscape

Another one of our favorite girl groups, Xscape, are not strangers to bad deals either. According to Kandi Burruss, current Atlanta housewife and member of Xscape, So So Def gave them twelve-thousand dollars to split four ways when their first album reached platinum status. Burruss goes on to say that the label didn’t know if the group would find success. Xscape ultimately reunited at the 2017 BET Awards and embarked on a multi-city tour soon after.


These starlets managed to persevere and achieve success despite the cards being stacked against them. As Kash Doll said in “Excuses,” on her latest album Stacked – “I can show you how to win, no matter who deals the cards.” Indeed, Black women can.