Rap Coalition

A HOW-TO RESOURCE FOR RAP ARTISTS, PRODUCERS, & DJs. Since knowledge is power, here is your best defense to succeed in the urban music industry...

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Lyor Cohen
This is reprinted from Bob Lefsetz' email newsletter....

How could he go on for so long and say so little?

In "The World Is Flat", Thomas Friedman says the future is based on imagination. Once a company starts talking about the good old days, and fails to push the outside of the envelope, it's toast. What did Einstein say? According to Friedman, "Imagination is more important than knowledge."

What Lyor demonstrates in his "Forbes" editorial is knowledge of the past. He gives us a history lesson, and then says the future is live. Hallelujah, now our problems are solved! If only the cavemen had played live, if only there was a live tradition. Hold it for a minute, it's RECORDING that's late to the game! Maybe it's recording that needs to be investigated as a business, that needs to find its place in the twenty first century landscape. Maybe Warner Music just isn't prepared for changed business conditions. But you won't read any of this in Lyor's words. You just get an old wave strategist trying to appear to grasp the new world in a business publication that speaks to investors. I wouldn't quite say it's a crock of shit, but very little insight into the modern music business is delivered. So, the old system is broken. We knew that eight years ago. As the saying goes, what have you done for us lately?

Warner upstreamed some rap records... Mmm...look at "Pollstar", rap is shit live. Rap needs major labels and their marketing dollars. But acts that can sustain themselves on the road, do they need Lyor Cohen to blow them up and eviscerate their credibility? It's Warner that's burning out acts, not the other way around.

Lyor goes on about networks. Saying you need two, one to find the acts and one to market them. That fiber-optic cables are irrelevant. But they're wholly relevant. They flatten distribution. They allow the tiniest of indies to compete with worldwide behemoths. Yes, now you can get your music heard on the Web, and you can even get paid for it, you can even choose to give it away for the promotion involved. All those entities major labels control...physical retail, MTV, terrestrial radio, they're irrelevant. A new indie act can sidestep them.

And stunningly, Lyor goes on about his muscle. Bragging about manipulating Charles Koppelman is like Tony Soprano reciting the history of a hit. Demonstration of a brutish way of behavior that is passe. Code doesn't manipulate. And Web statistics don't lie. Oh, the ones on YouTube and MySpace can be manipulated, but is iTunes hiding pressing reports?

And the fact that social networking numbers can be faked only speaks to the underlying point. Is what is being exhibited any good? So, Tia Tequila is a massive star online. Does that mean she's going to sell records? Ditto on the Sick Puppies. Why in the hell did Virgin sign them?

And the problem is not that record companies suck up the talent, but that they're only interested in multiplatinum, so they only sign pap. The fact that lawyers sell you an act has no bearing on how fast you have to develop it. Oh, maybe the deal is too expensive, but can't you say no? Can't you be like Chris Blackwell or the Chrysalis guys and find what nobody else wants, something new and innovative, and pay fairly for it?

The problem isn't music discovery. The problem is Lyor and his ilk are part of a decaying system. It's not like talent is hidden. If anything is good, it bubbles up on the Net. But, if the act isn't pretty and moving units already, if the major can't figure out how to get to platinum on the first record, the company doesn't bite. The way out of this? To sign more acts at a lower price and let them percolate. But I don't read this in Lyor's words. He's just crying that the old system isn't working for him and it needs to be reinvented. It is being reinvented, but by people outside the decrepit edifice, who are not burdened by decades of crap that holds the music back!

Really, I don't get it. It's not like music has lost its power, it's not like people don't want tunes. Hell, more people possess more tracks than ever before. The fact that the majors haven't figured out a way to charge them for this acquisition, and instead are suing those assembling collections, is not addressed here whatsoever. You've got incredible demand and you refuse to fill it and you say the problem is managers and lawyers?

And forget that competition for the entertainment dollar. All that competition is not reducing the number of people having sex. It's not like someone says no, I've got to kill more people on Xbox before I screw my girlfriend, I've got to flip through Craig Ferguson and Conan and Jimmy Kimmel before I pay attention to your caresses. Music has a unique power absent from all other entertainment media. But rather than harness this power, the major labels have abdicated and are promoting laughable hip-hoppers and cotton candy like the Pussycat Dolls. This is the majors' choice. No one forced them to go in this direction. They see the path to riches as an easy one. They just say they're giving the public what it wants. But that doesn't appear to be so.

People want music that touches them. If they get turned on live, fantastic. But Steely Dan never toured in its heyday, and that didn't keep me from purchasing and loving their albums. And most of the bands in my collection I've never seen live. And some of my favorite acts are shitty live. If you're selling records, live isn't the end all and be all. But if you're involved in all revenue streams, it's an important component.

Warner's got more than record revenue with My Chemical Romance. But most managers won't give up road or merchandising income to the major label. They see this request as a land grab, with very little given in return. What is the label going to do to help sell tickets other than to squeeze traditional gatekeepers for exposure? Major labels are not in the career development business. They can't wait for cash. Hell, look at Warner's stock, the company is desperate! Yup, I want to hear Lyor refrain from releasing another single from a hit album, fearful he's going to burn the act out.

Lyor takes no responsibility whatsoever in this editorial. He admits no mistakes, he blames the lack of revenue on bad business conditions. Hogwash.

Why not be like Steve Jobs at the turn of the century? Taking a dollar in salary and saying Apple's going to innovate its way out of the tech slump. Oh, you didn't believe it back then, you thought Macs were an island, that iPods were too expensive. Hope you weren't too stupid to buy stock.

But if you buy stock in Warner today you are stupid. Because the managers of this once-revered company have raped the company for their own personal wealth enhancement, and have loaded the enterprise up with debt. Fine if you're making widgets that people need for the next twenty years, but nobody needs crap music on CD. The catalog? A fucking gold mine. Close down new music and say you're becoming a catalog company and watch the stock rise. That makes sense. Not spending millions to market the next wannabe platinum act that nobody wants anymore. Yup, in a niche world the mainstream that the majors function in is losing breadth and depth. Fewer acts selling less music. Do we see Lyor address this? Of course not.

I'm not vindictive. I'm not the "Hits" guys on a vendetta, pissed Warner won't pay them. Rather, I'm disappointed. That these great engines of quality, Warner, Atlantic and the dearly departed Elektra Records, are now shadows of themselves, that they no longer purvey life force, don't sell what I need, rather are trying to coerce me into buying what's easily digested and soon forgotten. I'll come back to the major label system when Lyor and Jimmy Iovine and Clive Davis relinquish their power to the acts, where creativity truly resides. When artists testing limits truly rule. When SoundScan numbers are secondary to artistic and listener fulfillment. Greatness sells records, not marketing.

But greatness has been left out of the equation.

Great artists don't like to be told what to do.

So great artists are now going it alone. The music landscape will be ruled in the future by a completely different coterie. People who are trustworthy, who aren't into winning through intimidation. They'll gain their toehold via the Internet that still has majors scratching their heads. They'll use the new systems to deliver desirable music to niches however small. They'll realize we're living in a golden era of opportunity. Yup, Lyor is all doom and gloom, but there's never been a better time to be a musician, or an entrepreneur. And stunningly, they're often one and the same. And, those working at the long in the tooth major labels are usually neither.


Visit the archive: http://lefsetz.com/wordpress/

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

This Gangsta Stuff & Russell's Call For Change
by Davey D

I've read the recent criticisms launched at Russell Simmons and the assertions that his current position of wanting to ban the use of certain words on records is "self-serving." Of course it is. Anything Russell does is gonna be self-serving. What did we expect? Wasn't that the plan? Weren't we supposed to create an economic, political or social situation where he would see it in his best interest to change up?

He has business interests to protect -- and the social and political climate has rightly changed now, with calls for balance growing substantially louder. Russell's business is being impacted by people who are tired of the mass marketing of the mainstream minstrelsy that we see all day, every day.

Certainly no one seriously expected Russell or Ben Chavis to come up to Harlem to watch a screening of Turn Off Channel Zero. Why would we? And let's be honest...did you really want them there? I think one of the
things we overlook is the role that we played in getting these issues as much attention as they've gotten. We are the ones who changed the current climate with our collective efforts.

The fact that so many people are fed up is the result of the Turn off the Radio tribunal longtime radio vet Bob Law had up at the church on 126th street in NYC several years ago.

The climate was also changed as a result of the Hot 97 campaign, lead by REACH which was quite successful in New York. We not only made them lose money, but we blemished people's records as well, and even got several people dismissed as that station saw its ratings drop. They went from number 1 to number 8 in their market, which, in the radio industry, is major. Sure there were other factors at hand, but we certainly played a big part in initiating change there.

The climate change that we're seeing is also the result of the KMEL People's Station campaign put together by Tony Coleman of Minds Eye Collective and Malkia Cyrill of Youth media Council in San Francisco after I got bounced from working there. That was a successful campaign that forced KMEL to start playing local music and even offer me my airshift back (which I turned down).

We're seeing the change in climate now as result of Black Out Fridays in Detroit too. There we had intense lobbying efforts by Industry Ears to the FCC, Attorneys General, and Congress about the continued abuses of our airwaves. The new focus on balance is the result of people like Chuck D, dead prez, Immortal Technique and so many others...voices who railed against fucked-up media in public spaces in places. It's also the result of films like Turn Off Channel Zero and Hip Hop Beyond Beats and Rhymes, and of the Zulu Nation's Bring Back The Balance campaign. This climate is the result of us starting our own media outlets like The Block Report, Freemix Radio, Soul Patrol, Harrambe Radio, Breakdown FM and others. I could go on and on...

These changes, both large and small, are due to us pushing and pushing -- and agitating and demanding better scenarios for our collective community. Russell's proposal to change lyrics is but a small victory...he wouldn't have done this a year ago. We now need to take credit and push even harder for substantial change both within and outside of the industry. Having been deeply involved with the first wave of content battles back in '88 when we lead the NWA boycott, I clearly recall how some in the community argued ferociously against our effort. We did two weeks worth of radio shows getting community input back then, and I remember how many well-meaning Black folks who considered themselves conscious and revolutionary told us we were straight-up wrong. Maybe I'll post those landmark radio shows at some point -- shows which which included me, the guys from Digital Underground, Beni B of ABB records and all the Black college deejays from the Bay at that time.
Now that time has passed people have a very different stance, but that big debate back then lead to the formation of the Bay Area Hip Hop Coalition.

The debates we had were fierce. Many felt we should never glamorize disrespectful language, while others felt like NWA and Luke were somehow revolutionary. Hell, I even have a tape of KRS coming on our show praising the rough use of language by those guys -- he felt like it was good thing at the time.

There were many who felt that the stories by NWA needed to be heard and that they were indeed a reflection of us. I recall people throwing their fist in the air saying "fuck what white people think, this is our music" and "we gonna use the N-word all day long." People felt like keeping it 'hood was important. We were coming off the tail end of people criticizing Bill Cosby for not showing his Brooklyn neighborhood as a rough and rugged ghetto. Even Spike Lee caught heat for having a 'too clean' Brooklyn 'hood when he showed Do the Right Thing.

I recall white writers like Dan Charnas of The Source getting props and blessings from revolutionary types when he praised Ice Cube for reflecting anger in the 'hood when he called women bitches. In fact, I even emember Harry Allen almost coming to blows with this cat because he took such a strident stance and had revolutionary types 'supporting his efforts.' If you think I'm lying go back and look at the arguments that were raised at that time around this subject matter.

Part of the praise placed upon NWA and gangsta rap was this was Hip Hop's way of 'keeping it real' (that's when that phrase started to get popularized). Hip Hop has always been about being honest and true to the subject matter at hand -- but soon that definition got narrowed down to Hip Hop supposedly keeping it 'true to the streets.'

Complicating this issue further was the fact that West Coast rap prior to NWA often wasn't even considered Hip Hop by our east coast brethren. I have all those early New Music Seminar tapes with Egyptian Lover and Rodney O complaining about being clowned when they came to the Big Apple because their music was considered too soft. I also remember groups like The LA Dream Team, Sir Mix-a-Lot and numerous others being dissed. DJ Paradise of X-Clan even talks about the time when MC Hammer came up to the Latin Quarters by himself to do his song "Ring'Em," which was big hit in the hoods out here in Cali, but was clowned in NY.

NWA, with its booming beats and harsh lyrics, put LA and the west on the map and got Cali some acceptance. This was a big incentive for folks out here to overlook their own morals and common sense and get behind those gangsta groups that knocked the doors down. Personally, despite doing some of NWA's first interviews, I felt uncomfortable calling what they did revolutionary because I recall both Cube and Eazy telling me they were cursing up a storm as a way to initially be funny and that they enjoyed seeing the shocked look on people's faces. They weren't doing it because they really felt that way (as many like to romanticize). Look at some of the old articles on them and you'll see them admitting to that.

This was big point of contention, and was also the beginning of how shit started to get co-opted. When we did the boycotts, they were the result of community approval, involvement and support. The boycotts were effective and lasted for a year, and we did follow up interviews with NWA about them. During one landmark interview, Cube spoke passionately about his desire to change and be more political, and even talked about the internal debates he and his group were having about being responsible. It wasn't that long after that that he left the group, and much of what he talked about soon surfaced on his Amerikkka's Most Wanted album.

Ironically the NWA boycott was broken by white college deejays who felt like the group's material, and material like it, should be heard, and that NWA was somehow more authentic and real then groups like X-Clan and Public Enemy. This assessment not only played itself out on college radio, but it was replicated on commercial radio as well -- and I personally saw our playlist switch up almost overnight from playing PE, X-Clan and Paris to gangsta rap. Again, non-black deejays like Theo Mizuhara lead the charge in pushing gangsta material over the positive. This attitude was also embraced by several high profile black writers like Cheo Choker, James Bernard and later Toure -- who once bragged to me via email that he "killed the career of Public Enemy" by writing a widely read negative review of one of their albums.

In hindsight, we can see (and hopefully understand) that it was probably a mistake for us to not have been more involved in demanding what we knew to be right at the time, and we soon began to see people cash on the love that those outside of our communities were showing for gangsta rap. In 2007, we are seeing the end results.

The fact that we helped create a climate to start to turn things around is a good thing. If it manifests itself in stations saying they wanna change up then that's great. If it means it will help get more people excited about doing a different type of rap highlighting different subject matter then I'm all for it. If it means Russell (who for the past few years has said he would never try and tell an artist to change his or her lyrics) is now calling for an end to hateful and derogatory words in commercially-released material, I say that's good thing. We should push harder and encourage more to follow suit.

What's the next step? That's our collective challenge.

Now that we have people ready to push for better music, how do we intend to distribute? Keep in mind that while we were arguing about Russell being a culture vulture, the RIAA and US Copyright Law flipped the script and developed a new type of payola which effectively has wiped out Internet radio and any other digital distribution streams. They got the US Copyright office to raise rates by 1200% and to have it apply retroactively starting on May 15th. Appeals to this ruling have been denied, which means that most small internet broadcasters and streaming will stop by the end of May because cats are gonna be bankrupt. The big players like AOL radio, Yahoo and Microsoft will be around, but not the rest. So how are we gonna get all this good alternative music across?

If you think you can get around it by using independent artists, think again. Because of fear of lawsuits, most internet providers are gearing up to protect themselves from lawsuits. They won't want to take the chance of one of us putting out RIAA-owned material, so they will take precautions and limit the ability to pass the good music along.

While many small broadcasters like us (who saw the internet as a saving grace) will now find themselves in serious legal and financial jeapordy, the big time radio stations are cutting side deals with the major labels so they don't have to pay the high royalty rates -- in exchange for normal airplay. This is why some of us -- like me, Paul Porter, and Lisa Fager from Industry Ears -- were harping on this payola stuff so much. Now the shit is about to come back and haunt us big time. That's a serious battle that we will have to undertake. For those who have concerns about censorship, this change in copyright law is where the lines are drawn.

Peace out for now,

Davey D

For those who aren't up on the radio rates read this article..


The Age of Dark Payola
Netcasters take it in the pooper from the Copyright Royalty Board. The FCC certifies the HD Radio scam.
By David Downs

Published: April 18, 2007

Bay Area leading light SomaFM faces crippling debt and insolvency along with many of its Internet radio peers including Pandora and Live 365 this Spring. Late last March, the Copyright Royalty Board — three dudes in Washington — raised SomaFM's webcasting rates from $10,000 in 2005 to $600,000 for 2006 (applying retroactively).

"Staggering," is more like it, says SomaFM founder Rusty Hodge. "We were expecting rates to go up 10, maybe 20 percent. It would be painful, but at least it wouldn't put us out of business."

SoundExchange says it needs top dollar for artists. "Webcasters have a number of opportunities to maximize revenue with ... banner ads, pop-ups, video pre-rolls, audio commercials," says John Simson, executive director of SoundExchange.

But Hodge says he isn't interested in annoying his listeners, and exposure means more than gold to the indie bands he streams. Webcasters will seek relief through the legislature, because Hodge doubts such relief will emerge during a possible re-hearing before the Copyright Royalty Board in the coming weeks.

Zooming out for a moment, the whole netcast debacle fits into a bigger picture that spells out the banal maxim: Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Recording labels suffered two major burns in the 20th century: 1) Labels failed to negotiate terrestrial, on-air radio royalties and radio became a billion-dollar industry with their music; 2) Labels failed to negotiate royalties for music videos on MTV, and another empire cashed in.

Now, no one's building any more empires with their content, goddammit. Not Napster, Kazaa, Morpheus, LimeWire, or BitTorrent. Not YouTube (sued by Viacom), MySpace (sued by Universal), and definitely not a bunch of pissant throwbacks to college radio.

The majority of Americans who don't listen to netcasts should care about all this, because developments in that pond have ramifications for the on-air world, says Hodge. Terrestrial radio stations may soon face Internet radio's two sucky choices: 1) Pay SoundExchange through the nose for whatever the station wants to play, or 2) Save money by making direct, legal deals with record labels to play a label's free "Abomination of the Week." I'm looking directly at you, Korn Unplugged.

It's the opposite of payola but with all the effects, says Hodge. It's Dark Payola.

"They're going after the over-the-air broadcasters next," he says. "There's no doubt. And if you think media consolidation is bad now, wait till it's back to the old payola days."

At this point, you, the reader, are supposed to write congresspersons, sign petitions, and make bumpers stickers stating: "Down with Dark Payola!" There better be concerts, artists. Good ones. Plugged-in ones. Korn will not be invited.

Being a cynic means you get to be right a lot. So after expecting and then watching Internet radio webcasters strangled in their crib, there comes a certain dark glee in seeing Big Radio finally get its long-awaited approval for its horrid new HD system.

To recap what I wrote in March, HD Radio tops the list of corporate scams. The word "monopoly" fails to encompass this carny shill. Public broadcasting licenses are licenses to print money, and Big Radio's mints just got four times bigger with no givebacks to the public.

"A dream delayed" is what one FCC dissenting commissioner called the dream of a thousand little local radio stations doing their thing. New technology can boost the number of radio stations similar to TV's move to cable. If we stick to the metaphor, it's as if ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC now owned all the cable channels too.

Cracks in my cynicism have come courtesy of more than dozen letters from all over the country. A lot of veteran broadcasters wrote in positing very cogent points. One pointed out: "All my peers in radio have been silenced, even though they don't want to go along." They say HD's flaws include super-bad distortion in the AM range and a bass-ackward interface courtesy of thirty-year-old technology.

Yet, these keen readers don't see HD and the billions of dollars that support it in Washington as a done deal. Public comments on HD are still open, they say, and people on the street seem to be voting "no" with their pocketbooks. "Big Radio covets our public airwaves," says Milspec390. "Our influence counts. Let's use it."

If by "influence," Milspec means "money," then yes, it does count. But most people are saving their influence right now for something more important to them ... like an iPhone.
This article was initially written in response to some of the concerns voiced by media activists about Russell Simmons recent decision to call for a banning of certain words.Some were upset that he's suddenly getting credit for a fight that was raised by numerous activists and campaigns that on many levels he resisted. Many wanted to know his 'true motives', while others wanted to know why he refused to partake in other activities including the recent screening and panel discussion up in Harlem around the documentary 'Turning Off Channel Zero' that addresses the issue of media accountability within Hip Hop

Friday, April 13, 2007


We were living in a hip-hop nation. What happened?

The Internet.

Hip-hop evolved into a marketing juggernaut. The sound of the people made by performers who would endorse any product, tie in with anybody willing to pay them. And the marketers paid them. And the mainstream media covered the shenanigans. And then suddenly nobody wanted rap records anymore.

Of course rap became a caricature of itself. Then again, if you were cutting edge, you got no airplay. And with no touring business to speak of, and with disc sales declining, you needed that airplay. So ever more bland hip-hop was foisted upon the public on MTV and radio and...suddenly people had somewhere else to turn.

This is the broadband story.

Broadband begat not only YouTube, but the demise of Don Imus too. If it weren't for Media Matters, and its posting of the Imus clip, this story would have blown over, it would have been business as usual. But the Net kept the story alive. The Net MADE the story. The Net fanned the flames.

The major labels believe the Internet is synonymous with theft. Sure, a lot of stealing goes on via the pipe. But a lot more is exchanged between people. Information. New music.

The old system was built upon control. We decide who to sign, we decide who to promote, you choose from our slim pickings.

But suddenly there was more choice.

But you weren't supposed to like those new choices. They didn't sound like the mainstream, they didn't have the same traction, they weren't UBIQUITOUS! And that's exactly why the public embraced these new acts. They hearkened back to the days of the late sixties and early seventies, when the man had AM and we had FM. And the labels purveying the music were icons we wanted to work for, when they were doing their best to midwife the cutting edge, what we wanted to hear.

You know that doesn't describe the major labels today.

We've been reading over and over how Americans are bombarded with marketing messages, which are ignored. What makes the music industry believe it's immune? That when it hypes something it hasn't got the feel of Procter & Gamble trying to convince us to try out a new soap?

And with so much money at stake, the usual suspects ramp the hype up even more. Jay-Z is EVERYWHERE when his new album comes out. But that doesn't sell it. Because people can see the sell. And the sell has nothing to do with the music.

And didn't the labels cry that CDs have to cost so much because of the MARKETING COSTS? The HYPE costs? It's exactly these costs that are putting their acts in the ground. Only the lowest common denominator is interested in the tripe they're selling. Doubt me? Then why do the Shins sell more albums the first week than the vaunted J. Lo?

Most albums sell a pittance. They're far from ubiquitous. It's the HYPE that's ubiquitous. Suddenly, with a fraction of the marketing budget you can reach enough people to sell more albums than those of the scorched-earth policy overhypes. Think about THAT!

In other words, there's more money in the niche. Not only are niches selling a lot of records, they're doing so for a fraction of the cost. And people want the album, since they believe in the act.

We're in a new golden era. Pay no attention to what the major labels are saying. Don't worry about iTunes and DRM and lawsuits. They're the detritus of an old world. What's fascinating is that those who desire music are pulling it on the Web. They're going out and finding it, they're searching for great new stuff. And when they find it, they buy it, and go to see it live, they BELIEVE in it. And it sounds anything but formulaic.

In reality, this is less of a revolt against hip-hop than a setting loose of music lovers in a vast candy store. Why eat the same thing over and over again when you can try something new?

If you're playing only the hits, you're missing most of what people want to hear.

Then again, to get most of those people you'd have to play ALL KINDS of music. Begging the question of whether broadcasting is even the model. Whether it's more about niches. Whether satellite's tens and tens and tens of stations are necessary to fill the need.

You complained about the lack of melody in today's music?

No problem, you no longer have to listen to it. You can find something more appealing on the Web. Friends help. But even solo surfing turns up all kinds of appealing stuff.

We're seeing a great democratization of the landscape. Dictation is no longer the norm. It's not about strong-arming someone into liking your wares, it's about trying to do something so great, so appealing, so honest that people will flock to you, and sell it for you.

The landscape will never be the same.

Friday, April 06, 2007

DJ Drama Finally Speaks, "The Mixtape Game Needs To Change...People Need To Learn From This"

After remaining tight-lipped following his recent arrest on racketeering charges, DJ Drama has finally broken his silence and is telling his side of the story.

DJ Drama (born Tyree Simmons) has kept a relatively low profile since his "Gangsta Grillz" office was raided by both the Georgia police department and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) on January 16. But the Atlanta-based DJ is now speaking out about the incident in which 81,000 CDs were confiscated as evidence, along with cars, cash and frozen assets.

"A lot of the impact is still up in the air because people are waiting to see what comes of our situation. But, I try to look at everything in a positive manner. The mixtape game needs to change for the better. People need to learn from this," Drama said in a recent interview with Billboard.com.

The incident has created quite a bit of uneasiness in the DJ community, with the majority of DJ's sympathizing with "The iPod King" and wondering if they may in fact be next. Since his arrest, several theories have surfaced that attempt to explain the RIAA's calculated investigation of Drama, one that includes him being targeted for withholding his company's address on his CD packaging. But like most of the rumors surrounding the incident, Drama denies this as well.

"It was just never something I did. I don't have bar codes on my mixtapes, because that's not what the tapes are for. None of the products that were in Best Buy, FYE or Target came from DJ Drama."

Citing mixtapes' influence and longevity as a staple in breaking new hip-hop artists and as a vehicle to getting new music to the public, Drama doesn't see the mixtape industry going anywhere anytime soon, but acknowledges that some changes must be made.

"There's going to have to be some agreement between labels and artists that makes everyone comfortable. Even if the labels figure out a way of working directly with the DJs to get the mixtapes done by offering an upfront fee that makes sense on their end and on ours. It could create a system that makes mixtapes comfortably buyable," he says.

"I've heard the 'mixtape martyr' term, but I don't go backward, I go forward. Not just where does DJ Drama go, but where does the mixtape game go from here? People need to realize how important mixtapes are to hip-hop and the music business. Just look at the careers of people like 50 Cent, Young Jeezy, DJ Clue, and Jay-Z. There are people in very powerful industry positions that owe a lot to mixtapes."

Re-printed from Word On Da Streetz dot com.