Hip-Hop Community Reacts to DJ Drama Bust
Fri, 19 Jan 2007 16:57:28
Hip-hoppers and mixtape makers are trying to figure out how this week's high-profile bust of DJ Drama and DJ Don Cannon on illegal bootlegging charges is going to affect the industry. Drama and Cannon were arrested Tuesday (January 16th) at the offices of their company, Aphilliates Music Group, where police seized more than 81,000 mixtape CDs, labeling them pirated materials and earmarking them for destruction. Police also confiscated vehicles, computers and recording equipment, and froze all of Aphilliates' assets. Both Drama and Cannon were released a day after their arrests on $100,000 bond each, and are due back in court on January 24th.
Mixtapes have become a promotional staple in hip-hop, providing fans with an easy way to gain exposure to multiple new artists on a single disc. Established artists will sometimes lend exclusive material to mixtape DJs, making the compilations even more of a hot commodity. The mixtapes are sometimes sold at a profit, and sometimes flooded freely onto the streets. While labels don't officially sanction this use of copyrighted material, they often look the other way -- or even pay the DJs behind the mixtape for promoting their artists.
"I know for a fact that major label companies pay DJs like Drama to put out mixtapes," one anonymous DJ told SOHH.com after the bust. "It's always been an upspoken thing. But since this is happening, it will be brought out to the light -- so the end result may be positive for mixtape DJs everywhere."
Although most hip-hoppers acknowledge that the mixtape business can be a shady one, the crackdown on Drama, whose mixtapes have been instrumental in boosting the careers of southern rappers like T.I., Lil Wayne and Young Jeezy, strikes many as wrongheaded or even vindictive. "If it wasn't clear before, it is now: the RIAA cares absolutely nothing about its artists or their music," wrote Pitchfork.com's Dave Maher.
"This is like D-Day in hip-hop," said Diplomats A&R man DukeDaGod. "I think they're trying to make hip-hop illegal or something. They're trying to make too many regulations on it. This is one of the worst days ever I can remember in hip-hop."
Others aren't so sure. Lil Wayne, even though he owes much of his popularity to Drama's Gangsta Grillz series, warns that mixtapes can be a crooked business that leaves the original artists and beat-makers out in the cold. "If you don't play fair, all kinds of things can happen," Wayne said. "They gonna straighten the game out. A lot of companies take a fall with those mixtapes… The artists ain't caking, but the ni**a you made the mixtape with is caking up. Thank God I ain't got that problem, but I know a lot of people who do."
--The ARTISTdirect Staff