Lynne d Johnson



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05.04.03 11:55 PM

more on mixtapes and dwele, and don't forget the iPod

The art of the dis and mixtapes are receiving much ink from the press nowadays. I said it before and I'll say it again, the recording industry best find away to embrace not only mixtapes, but file sharing as well. Forget all this copyright hooplah, the industry is gonna find a way to capitalize. First iTunes with its music store and the new iPod, and now labels are looking for the next 50 on mixtapes. But not only that, mixtape lords are getting signed to labels more and more...cuz of course the industry wants a leg up on keeping its finger on the pulse and its ear to the street. Why I see the interest in mixtapes and the file sharing fiasco as similar issues, all rely on their parallels in copyright issues. But there is more to this, and it's going to take off soon. Just watch.

Last month I posted Geoff Boucher's LA Times piece on mixtapes and today I'll offer a quote from Lola Ogunnaike's NY Times piece on mixtapes. Kay Slay, The Drama King, is the focus, who also BTW appears in a recent issue of Vibe.

"Not beholden to record company executives, radio play lists or Soundscan numbers, rappers are not only free to be their most experimental but also to be their most venomous. On one of Kay Slay's recent tapes, "They Shootin'," Ja Rule questions why Eminem sports a do-rag. It's a loaded question, of course, meant to belittle Eminem for appropriating African-American culture. "You'll never have braids," Ja Rule goes on to rhyme. "You'll never know black pain. But you could become the first white rapper to get slain." By the end of his three-minute diatribe, Ja Rule has renamed Eminem "Feminem" and Ja Rule's arch-nemesis 50 Cent "loose change" and accused Eminem's mentor Dr. Dre of fraternizing with transvestites."

"Not to be outdone, in a rebuttal titled "Hail Mary," which also appears on the same tape, 50 Cent, Eminem and Busta Rhymes take turns attacking Ja Rule as nothing more than a Tupac-impersonator."
"His luck changed in 2001 when Jay-Z and Nas slugged it out on several of Kay Slay's tapes, reigniting an interest in battling, which waned after the East Coast-West Coast beefs in the late 90's culminated in the murders of Tupac Shakur and the Notorious B.I.G. The Drama King was born and soon every rapper with a beef was turning to Kay Slay. Now deejays like Kay Slay, once scorned by record labels because their tapes flouted copyright laws, possess the power to make or break an artist. Kay Slay says he gave up selling his tapes three years ago and now distributes them for free, which means he is seen as an impartial adjudicator, one with little vested interest in the outcomes of the battles he highlights or the artists he promotes. His stamp of approval has come to be highly regarded."

"He said his dis-heavy tapes did not hurt, but rather helped enrich hip-hop culture. "The game was boring until I came around," he said with the bravado that one would expect from the man dubbed the Drama King. "Everybody was too busy being fake, acting like they got along and talking about each other behind their backs. I brought the controversy back. I brought the game back to life."

Bonus: From George comes a link to a BBC Radio 1 interview with Dwele:

On Detroit...
'Detroit really has a soul vibe.. we have so many. You know, it's known for its house and its techno as well as its hip hop and Motown Records. There's a lot going on in Detroit but the soul is really coming up right now'.

On recording for the first time...
'Music has always been part of my life, for the longest, it's always what I've done as a hobby. Around 1997/98 I decided to put out an album just to see how people would feel about my music because I had always kept it to myself - I never really played it for any body outside of a select few. I made about a hundred copies and they ended up selling out in a week. They got bootlegged and down loaded and made it across the globe'.

On his influences...
'Most definitley Donny Hathaway.. I don't know what else to say except that it was like he drank a bottle honey before every session, hos voice was it. He could make you feel what he felt. Of course, Stevie Wonder... Songs In The Key of Life, Roy Ayers... there's a tonne of them'.

BTW, Dwele sings the hook on that Slum Village "Tainted" joint that I was always talking about last June. And just in case you didn't know, he also did a little singing on Bahamadia's bb Queen.
Bonus2: In the rain on Friday night, I hightailed it over to SoHo to the Apple store to check out the unveiling of the new ipod. They had two DJs with ipods plugged into a mixer, illustrating how revolutionary it is to carry around your entire music collection on these devices. No crates, and if you're a CD DJ, no CDs. Though, and you can now do this with CD mixers, there is no way to scratch, spink back, and most importantly change pitch. What kind of beat matching can you do? It's a challenge. Though I found the DJs uninteresting, I must say I was delighted to see the new ipod. I jumped the list, I mean line, by flashing my biz card. Yeah, membership has it's privileges. So what. I had checked out the ipod a day prior, my IT Director having received one for review, let me check it out. Silly me, I knew a short while ago when it was hard to find a 5gigger that it meant the new ones were soon coming, but yet I found a reseller selling a brand new 5gigger for lower than Apple's price and jumped at it. If I woulda' just waited a little longer, I'd have more songs to carry around, a sleeker device, a more intuitive control operation...damn, just a better machine. The Apple store was insanely crowded, and everyone was there to purchase a new ipod, some of course wanted to win the jbl speakers Apple was raffling off. I'm thinking about selling my 5gigger so I can re-up and get an upgrade.

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