Mix Tapes Compared to Cocaine?
Has an RIAA spokesman compared mix tapes to trafficking in illicit drugs? This is one of the least reported stories in the aftermath of the Jan. 16 arrests of DJ Drama and DJ Cannon on allegations that the pair were engaged in an extensive ring of copyright infringement through the creation, reproduction, and sale of mix tapes.
At its core, a mixtape is a compilation of songs woven into a cohesive whole by theme, rhythm, key, or a combination of the three. At their best, this new breed of mixtapes is more than just a musical compilation; it has become an art form that features unique, sometimes legendary performances that can come eerily close to the energy and spontaneity of a live show. While mixtapes are a genre-less art form, the leading mixtape creators seem to concentrate in hip hop.
DJ Drama (born Tyree Simmons, 28) has been one of the leading mix tape producers in the country, and is widely renown, particularly in the South, for his Gangsta Grillz compilations. Drama, through his mix tape series and with partner DJ Cannon (Donald Cannon, 27), also is credited with helping boost the careers of hip hop artists T.I., Lil’ Wayne, and Young Jeezy.
On Jan. 16, the Fulton County Sheriff’s Department, acting on a warrant developed from information provided by RIAA’s anti-piracy unit, arrested Drama and Cannon. In the raid at 147 Walker Street in downtown Atlanta, the sheriff’s department confiscated more than 50,000 allegedly illegal mix tape CDs, computers, studio equipment, bank statements, vehicles, and cash.
The online publication MP3.com quotes RIAA’s Matthew Kilgo as having said the following to the Fox television affiliate in Atlanta, GA:
Statistics prove that you can make a 400 percent markup on a kilo of heroine or cocaine, and statistics also show that you can make up to a 900 percent profit just on the resale of counterfeit CDs.
In order to confirm this quote, we visited the Web site Atlanta’s Fox 5 affiliate; the news broadcast remains available for viewing as of this writing. In the version that appears on the Fox Web site, a visitor clearly can hear Kilgo say the following:
Statistics also show that also show that you can make up to a 900 percent profit just on the resale of counterfeit CDs. So, there’s huge money to be made. (Emphasis added.)
Given the near-exact similarity of the broadcast quote, it is reasonable to conclude that Kilgo made the comparison between mix tapes and drug trafficking, and that this comparison was removed through editing. Assuming the quote and context are accurate, Kilgo’s quote easily would qualify as the most disgusting piece of propaganda about “piracy” since former MPAA CEO Jack Valenti — in January 2001, and again before Congress in April 2004 — compared “piracy” to terrorism.
Jim Welte. DJ Drama Arrested in RIAA Piracy Sting. MP3.com. Jan. 17, 2007.
MyFox Atlanta. Downtown Raid Nets Illegal CDs. Jan. 16, 2007.
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