Niykee Heaton is considered by many to be a rising talent in the industry, but like most artists, she's having major issues with her label. In a very personal open letter posted on her YouTube, Heaton went into detail about the troubles she and her manager have had with her label, All Def Digital, since she signed a year and a half ago. "We put up with constant and continual bullying, lies, unfair compromises, underhanded politics, name-calling, blame games and much more, all at the hands of grown men who saw two young girls and thought they could control us," Heaton recalled.
She added that she wasn't even proud of her Bad Intentions EP from last year. "I told Lauren that I would rather die than to sacrifice who I am, I wouldn’t be their mannequin, I wouldn’t play by their rules, and she stood by me," Heaton said.
Through all of the struggles and difficulties, Heaton remained positive and a lot of that seems to have come from a studio meeting with Kanye West. Heaton recalls that Kanye not only wanted to listen to her music and hear her story, but that he was appalled when she told him the label wanted to change her. "He [Kanye] said, that people hate on me because not only am I talented, but I'm proud of my appearance as well. People want me to be one or the other. They want me to choose. But he told us to never choose. We are proof that you can be both. Never change. Keep doing what you're doing," Heaton said.
Heaton's full open letter can be read below, while the audio of the piece can be found above via her YouTube. Complex recently talked with Heaton about her upcoming music, dating rumors, and more, which you can check out here.
An open letter to my fans, It is nearly impossible to express my unending gratitude and appreciation for those who have supported me and my journey throughout the past couple years. Words cannot come close to truly explaining the love I have for you all. I wanted to write an open letter to my fans to explain all the things I was never able to disclose before. For those who don’t know, a year and a half ago I signed a record deal with a major label. The struggles Lauren and I faced shortly after are too great to accurately recall, and if we could; you would all have a hard time believing it. We put up with constant and continual bullying, lies, unfair compromises, underhanded politics, name-calling, blame games and much more, all at the hands of grown men who saw two young girls and thought they could control us. They wanted me to change the way that I looked, the way that I acted, the way I sang, the words I wrote, who I was as an artist, but also who I was as a person. And I couldn’t do that. The creation of my EP under these circumstances was a strenuous and very difficult task. My label wanted to take away my creative control and identity, and exercised their plan relentlessly, until finally, I had no choice but to compromise. And in turn, I was forced to put out a project that I wasn’t even proud of. My label wanted me to sit down, shut up, play a part, and play it well. I told Lauren that I would rather die than to sacrifice who I am, I wouldn’t be their mannequin, I wouldn’t play by their rules, and she stood by me. In order to maintain my wishes, we had to distance ourselves from our label, which led to them ignoring us, for months. If you wondered why I am taking so long to come out with my new music, it is because we had to start over from scratch. Because I would not bend to the label’s liking, I was punished and ostracized. Even though it was extremely challenging, we did not run back to them and beg for help. We started over from nothing with no ones help, and started to rebuild, so that we could create a foundation that we were proud of. One that was not poisoned by outside forces. I know that people think of me as a joke, an instagram model, etc., and it killed me that I couldn’t explain myself or the struggles that were slowing us down. My label refused to promote me or my music because I did not act accordingly. They “punished” me by ignoring me, and my EP. My only way of self-promotion was through social media, so I used it to my advantage. People attack me everyday for exposing my body, calling me disgusting names, hurtful remarks. So much, in fact, that I contemplated if I should be in this business anymore. I was receiving criticism from every direction, everyone said we were doing it wrong. The people who were supposed to be on "my team" tried to tear me and Lauren apart and replace her with a manager of their choice, hoping to control me more. Then one day, Lauren and I had the honor of meeting with someone we both idolize in this industry. Kanye came into my studio session and asked to hear my music, hear our story. He praised our brand and told us to not listen to what anyone was saying. He told us that he had been following our journey for months and was a fan himself. When we told him that my label wanted to censor me, and change me; he was appalled. He said, that people hate on me because not only am I talented, but I'm proud of my appearance as well. People want me to be one or the other. They want me to choose. But he told us to never choose. We are proof that you can be both. Never change. Keep doing what you're doing. Hearing someone we respect so much tell us that what we're doing is right, gave us the determination and strength to not give up. So we kept doing what we were doing. We didn’t change, or compromise. That is why this journey feels so long, because I will never again give my fans something that is not one hundred percent me. I will not compromise or sacrifice what I believe in, even if that means taking the longer, harder route. It's worth it. I feel the need to explain this to my fans because you have fucked with me for so long, with no explanation for the long wait. And I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. I will never let you down. I promise, this will all be worth it. And if you can take anything away from this story, let it be the belief that you don't have to compromise who you are or who you want to be because other people don't understand or accept the way in which you do it. Nothing is worth sacrificing who you are. Nothing. I just wanted to thank you for being here no matter what. I love you guys more than you’ll ever know...