Part four of a five part series by J-Zone on the death of hip-hop
LAW & ORDER: MPC by J-Zone
“Boop Boop, it’s the sound of the police!” Yup, the legal police. Hip-hop is based in illegality, but not maliciously. Ironically, many people got into it to stay out of legal troubles (a life of crime), but technically this positive move is also seen as a life of crime by the powers that be. Mix tapes, remixes, sampling, parodies (somewhat)…the appeal of hip-hop was always rearranging the old to create the new. It’s the lifeline of the music. One man’s treasure is apparently another man’s trash.
In the wake of DJ Drama getting busted by the Feds for selling mix tapes that the labels and artists themselves approve and benefit from, it has never been more evident that the RIAA and their legal vendetta have just pulled the IV. We all knew that the late 80’s way of taking 8 bar James Brown loops and not clearing was bound to catch up to us. I can live with that. You have a platinum album and loop somebody’s whole shit, break em off some money and publishing, its only right. But then the lawyers and courts got tyrannical. Now 1/8 of a second sample can run you the risk of legal action. Ouch.
I remember having a beat placed on a TV show and the music supervisor panicked after the fact because he swore the snare I used sounded like it was sampled. Wow. I understand melodies, but somebody can own a snare sound now? This is pretty lousy, but to this point it only affected some of the major label stuff and big corporate gigs. No more. Myspace is now shutting down pages that post remixes. WHAT!? I find that completely ass backwards. I know a few dudes that were warned, and others shut down without notice for posting remixes of major label songs with COMMERCIALLY AVAILABLE ACAPELLAS!. WELL WHAT THE FUCK IS AN ACAPELLA AVAILABLE ON A RECORD FOR?! TO BE REMIXED! DING DING…MESSAGE!
Now to take that remix and release it on a major label and make 50 grand is one thing. But to have fun with remixes and post them on a myspace page, where ZERO DOLLARS can be made directly off of it, is completely harmless promotion for all parties involved. Not anymore. Back in the day to be on a Kid Capri, Double R, S&S, Doo Wop, Silver Surfer, etc. mixtape was the best thing to happen to an artist and their label. An unknown producer leaking a dope remix to a popular artists record was a way to get buzz and a way for the industry to find new talent. Taking pieces of old music and creating something new (like the Bomb Squad) wasn’t looked upon with the seriousness of a gunpoint mugging.
But in a day where album sales are down, no artists or labels are seeing any money, CD’s have foolishly been raised in price, interpolating one line of “Jingle Bells” in your song can get you sued and you can’t post a remix for promotional and listening purposes only…you can see the music and legal industries have officially declared war on rap as a knee jerk reaction to their own failures. And as idiotic and unjust as things have become, they have the loopholes of law on their side.