Nevermind The Posers

See ya in the pit.

For The Love Of Music, Or The Money? April 14, 2011

by Angela Blasi

So Drake was momentarily out of Young Money after an alleged argument and shoving match between him and Lil’ Wayne.  According to the rumor mill, like most celebrity fallouts, Drake got heated when discussing the possibility of restructuring his contract and while also inquiring about royalties.  He threw some words around to which Lil’ Wayne, the badass he is, basically told him to get the fuck out.  Days later the internet is a buzz with media citing that, oh, he was just kidding!  Drake, you so funny.  From interviews given by both Drake and Lil’ Wayne the two have cited nothing but the utmost appreciation for one another and are in fact still a part of the Young Money machine.

While this sounds like a sweet tale of bromance, the cynic in me can’t help but wonder how big a role money played in this smoothing over.  I imagine Drake throwing a bitch fit over royalties, starting to get an inflated sense of self (when most people know you’re from Canada and played the handicapped kid on Degrassi) and popping off at the mouth.  Fast forward a day and everyone realizing that, holy shit, we make a lot of money to do this, are you fucking stupid?  Smile for the cameras boys.


The Many Trials (Literally) of Lil Wayne: An Editorial February 25, 2010

Financially draining, time-consuming, and often, silly lawsuits are nothing new in the numbingly complex music industry.  It runs especially rampant in the world of rap.  Just type in a rap artist or producer’s name along with the term ‘copyright infringement’ to see how common it is.

Lil Wayne

So it comes as no surprise that yet another artist becomes entangled in the intricate webs of lawsuit-dom.  In a February 22nd blurb in Uncut Magazine (online)[1], rap artist Lil Wayne and his label, Cash Money records, are being sued for copyright infringement over the tune “Mrs. Officer”, from his 2008 album Tha Carter III.  According to the $2.5 million dollar lawsuit, producer of the song Darius ‘Deezle’ Harrison and music publisher The Royalty Network[2] claim they own the rights to the song, and rights to any profits from ring tones, music videos or streaming media[3].

Regardless of your level of expertise in the industry, it is not hard to see that there are a lot of people involved in the recording process.  Having a look at the liner notes inside of an album’s booklet shows just a fraction of the people involved in the making of a record.  Being that there are so many factors, it is not surprising that someone at some point would have a problem.  For this particular case, let’s quickly examine the two biggest trouble areas in this case, songwriting and producing.

The task of songwriting is very self-explanatory: they are hired to write and usually arrange a song, tailoring it specifically to fit the hiring artists’ wishes.  In the case of “Mrs. Officer”, reviewing the credits on the album would show that the writing credits are given to not two but three people: Dwayne Carter, Darius Harrison, and Robert Wilson (Lil Wayne, Deezle, and guest artist Bobby Valentino, respectively)[1].  From a publishing standpoint, this would suggest that any money a publishing house collects off of any media use would then be awarded to and divided between the credited writers.

A producer is a bit more involved; they are essentially responsible for the overall recording process.  Their multiple tasks include but are not limited to: finding a studio, determining recording dates, hiring the necessary mixers/engineers/additional musicians, etc.  And if one hires a more hands on producer like a Timbaland, Dr. Dre, or Kanye West, the responsibilities can grow to include: performance, sampling, programming beats, weeding out demos, song arrangements, track list selection, and even personally mixing and engineering the record.  In this area, ‘Deezle’ Harrison is credited as the sole producer of the song.

But does performing either of these difficult tasks mean that ‘Deezle’ has the right to claim ownership over a song that isn’t completely his?  Not necessarily.

Don't get ahead of yourself Deezle

In the process of recording an album, it is fairly normal for both producers and songwriters to be hired on a work for hire basis[2][4]; they are hired independently for that specific task and are paid some type of set fee upfront.  More importantly, this means that unless it is specified otherwise in the contract for the job, being for-hire involves the limiting or giving up of rights to the song and waiving collection of any future publishing money, so long as they are paid for the task and (usually) credited.  Basically, once they complete the task that they have been paid to do, they are absolved from any further involvement with the album, unless stated otherwise.

This doesn’t improve things on the Royalty Network front, as their ability to collect money from profits depends on whether or not the work on the song was a work for hire.  If not, then they are not entitled to anything; if it was a collaboration with any type of specific publishing details being worked out, then it’s time to pony up.

But this still doesn’t address who lays claim to the actual ownership of the song, which seems to be the big deciding factor here.  It would be great to get more in-depth with the rights and laws that are involved within this type of case, but there are only so many hours in a day; only so much a person with a life can devote.  So unfortunately, not much else can be said without conjuring up a migraine of technicalities.

But if you were to ask me, I’d say that it’s just another case of a producer greatly overestimating his importance, mixed with a publishing company’s attempts to milk the current cash-cow that is Lil Wayne on the back of one it its clients.

It’s nice to know that in an attempt to make a living off of creating, there are always money-minded sharks willing to ruin it for everyone.  Shame, shame, shame.

-Mark B.



Rolling Blown: The Demise of Rolling Stone as a Definitive Music Journal February 17, 2010

By Alexander Castiglione, aka Stigz

Anybody that has a subscription to Rolling Stone probably knows where I’m going with this.  For those of you that don’t get the music journal in the mail; bear with me.

Over the past few months, I’ve noticed something going on with Rolling Stone.  Specifically, who was on the cover.  The particulars are as follows: I have seen, in recent memory, a half-dozen covers which made me stop in my steps.  Especially since this is the same magazine that used to have legends like Jimi and Robert Plant on the cover, and even more obscure up and coming acts which we all know and love.  However, Lil Wayne, like this past week’s cover, is not a person I would say is contributing to rock.
Or music.
Or the planet, for that matter.

In fact, he makes the top five for people we should euthanize, slightly behind Carson Daly and Ryan Stop-Fuckin’-Smiling Seacrest.  Of late, we have also seen beauties like Megan Fox, absolutely delicious.  Or Shakira – who should permanently jack Kit Kat’s catch phrase, “Break me off a piece,” and have it forever floating over her head holographicaly.  Somebody should call Steve Jobs about this.  And it makes a whole lot more sense than the I-Pad.  But I digress.

Even John Mayer, who regardless of your take on him/his music/his fans, is a legit musician.  Mayer uses his Strat to slay a dragon with some serious riffs, and still breaks it down jazz style to have panties dropping from here to Japan.  Say what you will about him, or this new “Sex Object” PR approach his people are spinning, but this dude can wail.  In short, he earned a cover.

Then we have, which to be honest I thought it was the cover of an AARP catalog, the November 29th 2009 issue of Rolling Stone with Bono, Mick Jagger, and Bruce Springsteen on the cover.  Yes, I know it was regarding the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  Yes, I know it was a big deal.  And yes, now I know that two of the three are well acquainted with the good products from the great people at Pfizer.  But is this what Rolling Stone is about?

This magazine, of which I am a devout reader, has had some of the best pieces in not only music journalism, but journalism in general.  They all were about rock in some capacity.  Movies, music, cars whatever, they all related to the “Rock & Roll lifestyle.”  About this elusive and enchanting counterculture filled with good times, loud tunes, tattoos and smoking hot women, which has rocked this country for the last half century.  Yes, sex symbols make sense.  Yes, geriatric rockers make sense (however un-photogenic).  But Lil’ Wayne?  Come on!

Lil Wayne (whose name in itself makes me want to climb a clock tower) is in my book right under Kanye West.  The title of the book?  Douchebags Who Have Contributed Nothing to Music.

Being an aficionado of all music, whether it’s classic rock, metal, post-hardcore or electronic dance music, I can be safe in saying that Lil Wayne and Kanye (and anybody functioning under their paradigm of sampling and using sound effects to no avail and calling it “original”) are the bane of the music industry, and do not deserve the cover of Rolling Stone.  Vibe, yes.  Jet, Ok.  But Rolling Stone – never.

Rock, which is what Rolling Stone should be about, is about sticking it to the man (yea, I stole the Jack Black line from School Of Rock), about finding your voice and screaming it out to the world, about displaying yourself and breaking it down by lyrically tearing apart this random series of tragedies, accidents, joys, hates, failures, and triumphs we call life.  Not about bling, not about retarded Bentley tattoos, and not about who wins the most Grammy’s, but about who actually earns them.  And even Grammy’s lost their appeal, as they have slowly but surely become the music industries equivalent of a high school popularity poll.

The naysayers of this article will say, “Well, it’s pop culture, and that’s kind of what Rolling Stone reports on. Trends in music and stuff…”  Well fuck that.  And fuck pop culture.  Since when did Rock & Roll, or any music for that matter, become about “what’s popular.”

Music is about what moves you.  Music is about what inspires you.  Music is what soothes your savage beast – or uncages it.  Music is what connects us with everyone, everywhere, for all time.  Music is about vibing with the tonal creations of another human being.  Music, good music, is not pop culture.
Pop culture is the enemy.

PS Rolling Stone, please, please, I beg you, stop harboring the adversaries of musicality.