Wednesday, January 17, 2007

More hearsay and such on the situation with DJ Drama and the RIAA

O.K. So I spoke to a dude at the RIAA who really didn't want to do an official interview but said he would talk to me and clear up a few things I wanted to know.

I honestly didn't get a ton of solid information on the case specifically but in a nutshell the RIAA representative told me that they don't actively pursue bootleggers and mixtapes DJ's they just respond to law enforcement agencies and determine whether or not a certain product is legal or illegal. In this case he told me that the Atlanta police and police from around the state had been rounding up counterfeit product in the region and a lot of it was traced back to DJ Drama.

No, he would not distiguish whether or not this illegal product was mixtapes or actual bootlegs of commercial cds. He insisted that he was not sure about that.

I stated to him that it seemed to me that DJ Drama was one of the most legit mixtape DJ's in the game because many of his titles are directly tied to artists and/or labels and that when you listen to the tapes it's obvious through the shout outs and such that the artists have cosigned the release. For example, the Lil Wayne Dedication CD's DEFINITELY help propel Lil Wayne up a few notches on the rap scale and certainly did not hurt his promotion or the sale of his legit album last year. It's quite obvious to me, merely from listening to the disc that Lil Wayne was down with the releases, and the fact that he did two of them makes me think that the label was also quite happy with it.

I also "know" what DJ Drama has told a few artists he would charge to make them a Gangsta Grills mixtape. Even though they wear a lot of diamonds, I don't know too many individual artists who could afford to pay for that shit. The major labels, now that's a different story. I don't know everything about what dude does businesswise, but as a casual listener it seems as though the labels were definitely a part of creating a few of his releases.

And hands down, today, being on a DJ Drama tape is some A-1 promotion for any artist. It's valuable because he has made himself and his craft valuable.

Also I asked this dude about some of the "street rumors" that people have been hitting me with via IM, text and phone calls. The main rumor revolves around Houston's BCD Distribution. They are a legit distributor based here in Houston, who recently formed some sort of partnership with J. Prince of Rap-A-Lot Records and they seem to handle/distribute releases from the top mixtape DJs in the game and a lot of underground ones.

In the most recent OZONE Magazine, Wendy Day has an article about The Screw Shop in Memphis being raided and having all their mixtapes confiscated and more. In the article she basically says that the RIAA will go after this little black dude in Memphis, but won't go after the white owned company who sells mixtapes to Best Buy and major chains. Then Drama chimes in and does not name BCD outright but says soemthing like -there's a distributor in Houston who bootlegs my shit and puts it in the Best Buys and such.

I'm paraphrasing here but that's what he said. Everyone knows that BCD gets mixtapes into Best Buy. I have been to the office several times, had long conversations with the owners and they are quite adamant about only handling releases that have total clearance.

How you totally clear a mixtape, I don't fuckin' know, that's another story. I'll touch on it in a couple of paragraphs.

There's also rumors that DJ Drama recently won a court case against BCD but to be honest with you I haven't been able to find out any info on that yet, and really do not want to bother BCD with this bullshit because as far as I am concerned, at the moment, they are not involved. As my investigation progresses I will surely talk to them.

Anyway, people are saying on the street that BCD may have set DJ Drama up and sent the Feds/RIAA to his door. I honestly do not see how this could have happened, but in this business, lets just say me personally, I'm never really surprised by shit.

Keep in mind that I am only relating some hearsay type street rumors that a lot of people seem to be talking about right now.

I asked dude at the RIAA if there was any "outside influence," or if anyone ratted him out or even paid the Feds to come smack him and his people down.

He emphatically said "NO." Take that for what it's worth, but I asked him straight up if some outside entity like maybe a mixtape distributor in Texas sent them people for him and he said no.

That's what we have at the moment.

I also asked him about the Replicheck system I keep hearing about. Its basically a machine that you put the CD into and it will recognize if there's any songs that are tagged with some sort of a copyright stamp or some shit. I said "ok well what if I go and get a Lil Jon CD single, pop the instrumental into my computer as a wav file, run it through Protools, rap a verse on it, mix it and then burn it onto another CD or whatever, will the machine still recognize the copyright?" He said no. Of course not. Once you manipulate it in Protools or something similar it won't be recognized as such.

That being said, if you listen to the disc and hear some fool rapping over Lil Jon's "I Don't Give a Fuck" beat, then that person can say "Hey, did you clear this with Lil Jon?" And no, of course the mixtape DJ didn't. Does Lil Jon mind this? I don't know. I do know however that the mixtape is the #1 promotional tool for any and all rappers from here to Timbuktu. You gotta have mixtapes and you can't hate on them if you're going to function within hip hop.

Mixtapes are essential.

So in a nutshell, dude with the RIAA basically told me that the police in Atlanta "had a reason" to go at DJ Drama and Co. and that their only role was in identifying product that they deem to be infringing on copyrighted material.

All of the above came from a conversation they asked me not to record. They wanted to answer my questions so they could clear up some of the rumors, but rest assured that I am starting an investigation into this. I will be in Atlanta next week to talk to the authorities (I'm supposed to talk to a cop on the phone tomorrow), Drama and crew and some other folks, and then I am going to DC to talk directly to some folks at the RIAA and hopefully I can help get to the bottom of this and bring some clarity to the situation. The mixtape game needs some clarity.

And the RIAA dude also said that they are not at war with the mixtape DJs and do not necessarily target the mixtape DJs. But sometimes the line gets crossed and they have to go after the straight bootlegs.

Anyway, hopefully my work in the next couple of weeks will add some clarity to the situation and something positive will come out of all this craziness.

Just know that things aren't always what they seem. And at this point I don't know shit. Just what I have been told. More to come later, keep checking back.

19 Comments:

Anonymous mofoz said...

good to see you are omn that story...shit seems real shady somewhere down the line

4:52 PM  
Anonymous Clark Kent said...

This could b a major blow to unsigned artist who push mixtapes to promote their music. I always thought mixtape dj's helped promote the artist by giving them some hype b4 their album came out....guess the RIAA didn't think so though.

4:54 PM  
Anonymous Kc aka DjFo20 said...

...all this, but Hip Hops dead? I think not.

I'll be tuned in tonight. Dont know if youre gonna be there, but I'm sure we'll be hearin' a bit more about this, then, if so. Good luck on your travels and your investigacion.

6:19 PM  
Blogger JohnTheBaptist said...

Get'em Matt damn ma'an, I been forming these same thoughts and fears. I can't wait to read what you find out ma'an. HoustonSoReal has always been interesting and a good read, but now you really getting to the heard of a matter ma'an

its a scary lil time for the unsigned and independent artists out here. Its nice to know you got sumone who can find the answers to questions we have...

Thanx Matt!!!

8:07 AM  
Blogger The Funkadelic Relic said...

The RIAA is full of ish. They can eat a d**k straight up. DJ Drama and Don Cannon made millions of dollars for the record companies and if they turn their backs on them now that they are faced with fighting these totally BOGUS charges then we will all hear Q-Tip's words ringing in our ears in 2007. . "Industry rule #2080. . Record company people are SHADY!"

The labels, artists and every Mixtape DJ in the world should be speaking out on this one. Anyone who knows anything about Hip Hop knows this had to be a set up of some sort.

Imagine this. Drama and Cannon get convicted. They go to prison. Do you honestly believe that the record labels will not continue to use the same concepts and marketing strategies they learned from Drama & Cannon to promote their artists? You know that is probably the business. Lock 'em up, confiscate everything they have worked so hard for, steal their concept (maybe change it a little here and there) and don't give 'em any money. Business as usual in Bush AmeriKKKa.

HIP HOP ISN'T DEAD, BUT IT'S DAMN NEAR ILLEGAL!

Justo Faison (R.I.P.) is turning over in his grave.

This is a direct attack on Hip Hop and Mixtape DJ's - A TERRORIST ATTACK! We can't get Bin Laden but those terrible Mixtapes are off the street!

Hip Hop is taking too many people (that might be selling drugs, robbing people or otherwise) off the street and so there has to be new BS laws created to lock all the Black and Latinos away. Gotta fill up all those prisons and when they're full build more. It's the AmeriKKKan way.

Sounds to me like DJ Drama and Don Cannon may have a case of their own and I hope they win BIG to teach these fools a lesson. Then again, this is Bush AmeriKKKa so I'm not that optimistic, but I am praying that they get to sue those fools.

FREE DJ DRAMA & DON CANNON!

APHILLIATES SHALL RETURN! PAY ATTENTION!!

10:13 PM  
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