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Say It Loud


2003-03-01 09:26:04

Rap Under Attack

By Herb Boyd TBWT National Editor Article Dated 2/28/2003

New York--When David Mays, the founder and CEO of The Source, sent out a red alert, charging that hip hop culture, in general, and rap music, specifically, were under attack the response was immediate and formidable.

Answering his state-of-emergency call were such notables as Damon Dash of Roc-A-Fella Records; Hillary Weston of Queen Bee Entertainment; Jermaine Dupri of SoSo Def Records; George Daniels, a leading retailer in the music industry; Irv and Chris Gotti of Murder, Inc. Records; DJ Ed Lover; and writer/hip hop activist Harry Allen. (Chris Gotti was shot in the leg later in the evening in front of his office in Manhattan.)

"This is a wake up call," Mays said during a recent press conference at the Millennium Hotel in midtown Manhattan. "It is time for us to take a deep breath...and deal with the issues facing independent record producers, the consolidation of the music industry, the power of the media, and the law enforcement agencies that is watching our every move."

Indicative of the concern expressed by Mays and the CEOs from the independent labels is the latest edition of The Source that depicts a upside down microphone tethered like a miniature bomb to a wire-like fuse about to explode. "This is the first time we didn't put a rap star on our cover," Mays asserted.

Mays, who started the magazine 15 years ago and that now has more than 9 million readers each month, noted his role in the increasingly troubled situation. "We have the responsibility to play a leadership role in all this," he said. "We haven't been without our faults...we've made mistakes...and as white person in hip hop, I know I have an obligation to respond to the community during these critical times."

The attack on rap, which many of those at the press conference view as an attempt to minimize their opportunities, is nothing new in the industry, according to Harry Allen, whose nom de guerre is the "media assassin." "Attack is now standard procedure," he began. "You get used to it; it's like background noise. The attack is multi-pronged and in many ways is an extension of the general attack on Black males."

Popular DJ Ed Lover amplified Allen's remarks, adding that the independent record producers, some rap artists, and a few members of the alternative media are united in their stand against the attack, particularly the mainstream media and the ravings of Bill O'Reilly of the Fox Channel. "We know what you're doing," he blasted, referring to the mainstream media, "and you're not going to get away with it. We got each other's backs and we are determined to control our own destiny."

When asked about the police surveillance that is detailed in an article in the latest The Source magazine, Mays said that they were doing further research and that they hoped to elaborate on what had been disclosed about a unit within the NYPD set up to watch hip hop culture. "Yes, some of us are guilty of perpetrating the violence associated with the music," Mays said in response to a question. "We have to take responsibility for some of that and then do what we can to stop it."

Mays also admitted there had been tension between his publication and his rivals, but that too he hoped would soon abate and they could resume dealing with the major issues facing rap music and hip-hop culture.

"We have the power to change the world," Mays said in an earlier press statement, "because (hip hop) is a culture that works to destroy stereotypes, promote racial unity and to empower the powerless."

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