Think back: you’re in the 7th, 8th or even 9th grade, running through your playlist on shuffle, and your favorite Kesha song comes on (“Tik Tok,” “Crazy Kids”, “Blow”, take your pick). Back then, we all knew this party-girl-meets-pop princess as that one super cool artist to watch. With an – admittedly – questionable amount of autotune, undeniably catchy lyrics, and a lot of glitter, Kesha (aka Kesha Sebert) surely took the world by storm.
Still, as with many cases in the music industry, we failed to acknowledge just how she rose to fame, and what she – like many artists – had to give up in order to achieve her success. Of course, it has come to light that she had to renounce much more than her hometown, and her family. The flamboyant, fun “glitter queen” appears to have lost things much more important to any human being, on a more personal level.
Sebert let the world know that her dignity, self-confidence, and sense of security were forfeited to one of the people who should have actually had her best interest in mind, Dr. Luke (aka Lukasz Gottwald), her producer.
We all know that there have been things circulating in the media. In case you missed it, here are some key details about the history behind the current case:
- Sebert claims to have been induced by Gottwald to drop out of high school at the age of 18. So, she has been dealing with the abuse for about a decade.
- Gottwald is said to have threatened Sebert physically, causing her to run barefoot down the Pacific Coast Highway, and hide in the nearby mountains.
- Gottwald allegedly forced Sebert to snort illegal drugs and gave her pills that would “reverse” the effects of said drugs. Sebert says these were really a form of gamma-hydroxybutyrate, more commonly known as the date rape drug.
- The producer is said to have taken control of Sebert’s life, threatening to ruin her, and her family, if she tried to sue.
- Gottwald is also accused of forcing Sebert to enter into “one-sided, long-term contracts” that brought her little profit. Think: her vocals in the song “Right Round” by Flo Rida were her ‘big break’, yet she was never credited.
- Gottwald, allegedly, made a habit of calling Sebert fat, comparing her body to a refrigerator. Sebert cites this as one of many incidents that show how he often tried to break her self-confidence.
- Sebert’s aspirations to make a rock album, and to generally pursue something other than being the wild “glitter girl,” were allegedly stifled by a very commandeering Gottwald. Though we love this character, it’s apparent that this isn’t all she wants for herself. This “I want to go rock but they won’t let me” issue seems to be experienced by many female pop stars.
- In January 2014, Sebert was admitted into a rehab center in Illinois due to an eating disorder. She was told by doctors that continued contact with Gottwald would be very bad for her mental and physical health. Duh.
Note: we have collected the stand-out facts, but it is so important that anyone reading this does more research.
The ongoing legal battle that should have freed Ms. Sebert from her contract – which notably calls for six more albums from her, to be produced by Gottwald – ended, instead, with a ruling in favor of the producer and Sony, the music label which houses both parties.
As we don’t pretend to be fortune tellers, the future remains very unclear for this issue; regardless of this, we can note that this very unfair standard is, sadly, a trend.
We love the music of artists like Chris Brown, and Dr. Dre (and his group, N.W.A.), but the poor treatment of women – whether they be other artists, in the case of Brown, or simply fans and romantic interests, in the case of Dr. Dre – cannot go unnoticed, or continue without punishment. Punishment can be dealt socially, financially, or legally, but the fact is that repercussions should follow. While artists like Lady Gaga, have spoken out about mistreatment at the hands of higher-ups, and called for change, there is a general silence and avoidance of this issue.
Whether it be male producers, artists, or even event promoters (yes, it’s that deep), it should be a given that women are able to feel safe working within any area of the music industry, and it should also be a given that there is a fair process, for any artist, to rightfully exit contracts when dealing with such dangerous, terrifying situations.