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Thursday, January 18, 2007

DJ Drama Arrested, the Law Takes Aim at Mixtapes

DJ Drama Arrested - Report - New York Times:
"DJ Drama (whose real name is Tyree Simmons) and Mr. Cannon were each charged with a felony violation of Georgia’s Racketeering Influenced Corrupt Organization law(known as RICO) and held on $100,000 bond.

The compilations produced by DJ Drama and his protégés are known as mixtapes, though they appear on CDs, not cassettes. Mixtapes have become a vital part of the hip-hop world. They are often the only way for listeners to keep up with a genre that moves too quickly to be captured on albums. On a mixtape you can hear unreleased remixes, sneak previews from coming CDs, casual freestyle rhymes, never-to-be-released goofs.

Mixtapes are, by definition, unregulated: DJs don’t get permission from record companies, and record companies have traditionally ignored and sometimes bankrolled mixtapes, reasoning that they serve as valuable promotional tools. And rappers have grown increasingly canny at using mixtapes to promote themselves. The career of 50 Cent has a lot to do with his mastery of the mixtape form, and now no serious rapper can afford to be absent from this market for too long.

As mixtapes evolved from a street-corner phenomenon to a cornerstone of the hip-hop industry, record companies tried to figure out ways to cash in. Mixtape D.J.’s like DJ Clue, DJ Kay Slay and others have released major-label compilations full of tracks that abide by copyright rules. But it’s not easy to turn a mixtape into something you can legally sell: part of the fun is hearing rappers remake one another’s songs and respond to one another’s taunts; a great mixtape captures the controlled chaos that hip-hop thrives on." (more)

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