"Motown folded." With that simple tweet, Erykah Badu announced the death of one of the greatest record labels of all time yesterday. Badu's 2010 album New Amerykah Part Two (Return of the Ankh) was released through Universal Motown, so she'd probably be among the first to know if her label was folding. However, there was the little detail that Motown isn't folding. Universal reps were quick to deny Badu's assessment, admitting that they were "undergoing restructuring" following the recent exit of their president Sylvia Rhone but "remain committed" to the Motown brand, the label said in a statement to Billboard.biz.
Badu hasn't elaborated on her "Motown folded" announcement since sending the tweet 15 hours ago. Usually we'd side with the artist seemingly telling the truth over the record company saving face and calming stockholders, but we're leaning toward Badu being misinformed here. Universal Motown is pretty stocked with talent, with Lil Wayne's Young Money clique (which includes Weezy, Drake, and Nicki Minaj), Kid Cudi, Akon, and Crystal Castles. (Really?) There are labels facing harsher conditions with a roster half as good as that.
It's been a long time since Motown was Motown, the legendary Detroit label that introduced the world to the Jackson 5, the Supremes, Marvin Gaye, and Stevie Wonder. The real death of Motown could pretty much be tracked to 2005, when the label was absorbed by Universal to form Universal Motown. However, the Motown name still has some clout in this industry, and even though today's Motown is unrecognizable from Berry Gordy's original vision, it'd still be devastating to lose that pillar of music history.
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