7.27.2000 9:35 am pt Chuck D Speaks Out Against Judge In Napster Ruling
(from Allstar website) by Kevin Raub
Outspoken Public Enemy rapper Chuck D slammed U.S. District Court Judge Marilyn Hall Patel over her granting of a temporary injunction against Napster, Inc. on Wednesday (allstar, July 27).
"If Patel was the key judge at the last turn of the century, we'd still be relying on horses and buggies and trains to get around," said Chuck D in a statement released on Thursday (July 27). "Stopping the process of file sharing is like trying to control the rain."
Judge Patel ruled in favor
of the Recording Industry Associated of America on Wednesday, forcing Napster to
shut down by midnight on Friday (July 28) pending appeals and trial. Chuck D,
along with Limp Bizkit frontman Fred Durst, has been one of the most outspoken
proponents of Napster since the controversy erupted earlier this year. In May,
the rapper went head-to-head with Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich, whose band has
sued the MP3-sharing software company (allstar,
April 13), in a debate over the issue on The Charlie Rose Show.
J-Live, M.F. Doom, Confrontation Camp Live in NYC
Chuck D's Confrontation Camp headlined the show consisting of four acts, but in all honesty, everyone came to see M.F. Doom.
The first act was a trio from Minneapolis called Atmosphere, made up of two emcees (Slug and Idea) and a bravura turntablist aptly named Abilities. Many in the audience knew of Atmosphere, but the majority was hearing them for the first time. "Impressive" is the word that comes to mind when describing their performance-- they even had Company Flow's El-P nodding his head while they performed.
Atmosphere has a stage presence that sucks you in like a black hole. They have incredible beats and nice lyrics that don't really live up to the beats, but they still keep your head bopping and your face grinning. Some witty lines included Slug urging emcees to, "stop writing raps their friends only feel," and Idea proclaiming he is "Everyone's favorite emcee's favorite emcee." This duo is truly entertaining and true to the culture. They definitely left a good impression of Minnesota hip-hop. Some more performances in New York, as well as more touring, could take them very far.
Following Atmosphere was J-Live, whose set was inconceivable, to say the least. J-Live's segment was a schooling session for any emcee that performs DJ-less. He stepped onstage announcing his DJ as "MD’" (minidisc) and I was immediately skeptical because I feel emcees don't embrace the DJ enough. I was quickly relieved when, after performing three songs, he got on the ones and twos to flex his skills. What no one expected was for him to perform "Braggin' Rights" in this manner. "Braggin' Rights" is unique track in that the beat is made up of a DJ cutting one melody back and forth throughout. J-Live did the cuts and rhymed at the same time. Then he changed the record and used Black Star's "Respiration Remix" instrumental, and like a true turntablist, created a beat out of that and proceeded to rhyme over it. J-Live's set is a must-see, so check www.digitalclubfest.com to see when this show is being re-broadcast.
Next came M.F. Doom, a person known to create a mental riot atmosphere. He performed earlier this year with M.F. Grimm at the Wetlands, and came on stage in cowboy gear and a gas mask-- this past evening, he wore a Dr. Doom mask, complete with a brown hoodie and green shirt. It was fresh, to say the least... perhaps ingenious would be a better term. In any case, the crowd loved it, and it seemed like they had just awakened when he stepped on stage. Everyone was jumping, dancing, and going wild. Performing classics like "Greenbacks," "Rhymes like Dimes," "True Thug’" and "Red and Gold’" he delivered a satisfying performance.
As I said before, three-quarters
of the audience left when Chuck D came on. Possibly they were not Chuck D fans,
but regardless of the fact, I stayed on to witness an interesting performance
that would have been satisfying even if the rest of the acts on the bill were
Korn, Limp Bizkit, or Papa Roach. Confrontation Camp is a band consisting of a
bass player, guitarist, a drummer, a turntablist and another vocalist, in
addition to Chuck D. They have the sound of a rock/rap hybrid. Confrontation
Camp gave their all, but it was a shame no one stuck around to see it. They
would truly be successful if they linked with people who follow hardcore
One of the first artists to embrace the possibilities offered by digital music technology, Chuck D signed a deal with Internet label Atomic Pop, makes regular posts in the Terrordome section of the Public Enemy website, and has weekly Internet radio shows: "When the Shit Hits the Fans" and "Beats Rhymes and Life" on bringthenoise.com and "Planet of the Tapes" on rapstation.com.
On the phone from his studio in Atlanta, Chuck D explained Confrontation Camp's recent exit from the Warped Tour. "We had eight dates given to us on the West Coast. It was not feasible at that time to do it with no record and the amount of money given us to make the West Coast trip." Of the new record "Objects in the Mirror Are Closer than They Appear," Chuck D said it's "definitely in the vein of what Kid Rock and Limp Bizkit try to do. It's like really aggressive rap and poetry with singing over metal."
In recent years, Chuck D's involvement with the Internet has elevated him to the role of spokesman for artists who look to the new technology as a means to obtain fairer contracts and better interaction with fans. Chuck D began looking for alternate avenues and forums to get his music to the public after a much-publicized dispute with his former label Def Jam.
"I got involved with it because of the cost of presenting music. It got to a point where somebody at the label told me an album had to have $750,000 behind it to be a hit on the radio stations. I come from a world where my first record cost $17,000 and where you try to make art for as little expense as possible and get it to the public."
The recent proliferation of file-swapping programs such as Napster and Gnutella have made getting-it-to-the-public cheaper--much cheaper than some artists are comfortable with. While some artists view the free trading of their music as copyright infringement, Chuck D sees the file-trading systems as the new radio, a shifting paradigm the industry is going to have to get a grip on.
"File sharing doesn't fit into the old template. By the year 2002, you're going to see a million artists and a million labels on the Internet and the old industry rules won't apply. People say big lawyers are going to take over the Internet. They can't find everybody. They're not gonna be able to sign everybody. People are gonna rebel and use this to rebel."
One form that this rebellion is taking is Internet radio, which allows Chuck D to broadcast his two radio shows from wherever he happens to be at the time and without having to water down the content to keep watchdog organizations like the FCC happy. Under traditional radio format even the title of "When the Shit Hits the Fans" (a program featuring unsigned artists) would be unacceptable. And it's equally unlikely that Chuck D could reach an international audience with his Saturday hip-hop news show "Beats, Rhymes and Life" using previous radio formats.
Working outside the major labels
means working without the long marketing arm they provide. But for an
established artist like Chuck D, moving outside the mainstream still works
pretty well. "It's perfect for me. Hip-hop is an underserviced genre
anyway. I've gotten involved with the web because of the lack of services to
hip-hop and rap in the traditional realm."