Monday, January 22, 2007

Whose music is it anyway?

In light of the recent events, regarding mixtapes, much of the focus has been on what is termed "counterfeiting". Mixtapes were where the D.J.'s taped their sets and the M.C.'s chosen by the D.J.'s cut their teeth. Everyone has heard the story of the origin of the mixtape.....

What is not discussed enough is the relationship between the mixtape, and the business. When I first began to hear mixtapes, a friend named Archie was bringing them from Uptown. Brucie B's, Kid Capri's, Action Pac's, and a few others. There was no stigma attached to the "biz" of mixtapes because Hip-Hop as a culture wanted all of the exposure they could get at the time. The DJ is the tastemaker, and from the beginning, this was understood.

I couldn't imagine Russell suing for a Def Jam song or Tom Silverman of Tommy Boy being upset that Planet Rock is on your tape. Russell is Black and Tom Silverman, is Jewish, so the problems cannot be framed totally in terms of race. But more in terms of ownership. Those CEO's were closer to the steet. The large conglomerates think that because they have bought most of the "early crown jewel labels" of Hip-Hop, that they own the culture ,and all the trappings within. They obviously don't view this as an opportunity to get money "with us".

No shame in their game. Sorta like what happened when the Indians invited in those strangers in, after kicking it over a meal. Now look.

In my opinion, this was as much about the conglomerates asserting their now, complete ownership over our music, far more then attempting to "stem terrorism", "drug & guns" or whatever other b.s. they came up with. This was a warning to those who still feel they can "get money" outside of the structured confines now imposed by the big 4 (Universal, Sony/BMG, Warner, and EMI). The nerve of you to think that if they don't put your album out for 4 years (Clipse), you would still be making a living off mixtapes verses. Or touring off of mixtape singles (Jeezy).

They are saying you cant use our beats and even if you have original beats,
you can't use our artists especially if they are trying to starve them! And to consider, labels often financially sanction these tools to build a buzz.

All it would take is for those big 4 CEO's to call off the RIAA hounds. Maybe I am delusional and the sanctioning doesn't stem from that high. Rather its low-level promotions staff that give the music to influential DJ's to build buzz, and consequently keep themselves off the chopping block. The problem is, when the RIAA kicks in the door with the authorities, A&R XYZ is nowhere to be found. Besides, who is he in the grand scheme of things?

Seems like if there were a "Master P" type independent today (original beats/artists), and he didn't get down with the Big 4, they could "sic" the RIAA on them as a frustration ploy...
I mean, who knows whats on the CD's until they are listened to? Suppose they discover all 80,000 CD's are legit? Then what? And since we are already pre-judged as thieves and thugs, the authorities are more than willing to assist. Its just their word. Its not like they do a series of CD buys, as with drug accusations. By the time you fight them off, if ever, you would surely be bankrupt! So, even if Drama and Cannon happen to make it out of this, it won't be without considerable expense.... Something they are hoping will frustrate and dissuade future mixtape DJ's for sure from making ANY kind of home music recording.

We have to get back to ownership, if we are to preserve the art of the mixtape and the basis of Hip-Hop itself. It is under attack as we know it.

What do you think? Am I overreacting, or right on point? Let me know How you feel?
Experts, let me hear you.

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