"WHAT GOOD IS THE RHYME WITHOUT SUBSTANCE?"
9.30.99 Public Enemy Leader
The site was designed to
"enlighten, empower and also entertain, as well as educate," Chuck D
Rapstation.com is soliciting
artists to upload downloadable music files to the web site, along with CD cover
art, lyrics and album notes.
Creamwerks' chairman is
Hassan Miah, the former chief executive officer of MP3 software developer Xing
Technology. Rapstation plans to focus on "fashion and radio and television
and merchandise," Miah said. With hip hop culture, "we're looking at a
Listed below is Chuck's official press release...
F R E E Y O U R M I N D F R O M T H E M A T R I X !
http://www.Rapstation.com is on the air with news, noize, bits and bytes
for the intergalactic hip-hop nation.
Inside the Rhyme: the full scoop
from hip-hop's movers and shakers
The revolution will not be televised it will be digitized.
The combination makes sense, as the two
groups are scheduled to work together on a re-worked version of "Prophets
of Rage," from Public Enemy's groundbreaking 1988 album, It Takes A Nation
of Millions to Hold Us Back. No further details were available on that
collaboration at press time.
(from Vibe website)
According to Liz Morentin, publicist at Atomic Pop Records, veteran rap group Public Enemy will open for socio-political rock band Rage Against The Machine at New York City's Roseland October 2. In related news, beginning in October Rage will preview two tracks online from their upcoming new album. The tracks, the first single "Guerilla Radio" and the album's first track "Testify," will be available at www.realguide.com/ratm and at various radio station Web sites. Fans who purchase the album, due out in the U.S. November 2 on Epic, will be able to download an exclusive live track through a private RealJukebox Web site. Rage will also announce plans for an upcoming tour soon.
9.21.99 Public Enemy's Poison Goes Nationwide
(from Vibe website)
Veteran rap group Public Enemy will embark on a U.S. tour in support of their new album, There's A Poison Goin' On. According to a publicist at the group's label, Atomic Pop, the outing kicks off October 3 in Minneapolis and wraps up on October 24 in Vancouver, Canada. Here's the complete tour itinerary:
10/3 - Minneapolis (1st Avenue),
10/5 - Milwaukee (Rave),
10/6 - Chicago (House of Blues),
10/7 - Detroit (State Theater),
10/8 - Pittsburgh (Laga),
10/9 - Philadelphia (Mann Music Center, FREE SHOW),
10/10 - Washington, D.C. (Nation),
10/12 - Myrtle Beach, SC (House of Blues),
10/14 - New Orleans (House of Blues),
10/15 - Austin, TX (Stubbs),
10/17 - Denver (Gothic Theater, tentative),
10/19 - Los Angeles (House of Blues),
10/20 - San Diego (Belly Up),
10/21 - San Francisco (Maritime Hall, tentative),
10/23 - Portland (Venue TBD),
10/24 - Vancouver, CAN (Venue TBD).
9.21.99 11:00 am edt Public Enemy To Tour North America
(from Billboard website) Edited by Julie Taraska
Public Enemy will kick off a North American tour Oct. 3 in Minneapolis. The monthlong outing will include stops in Chicago (Oct. 6); Washington, D.C. (Oct. 10); New Orleans (Oct. 14); Los Angeles (Oct. 19); San Francisco (Oct. 21); and Vancouver (Oct. 24), among others.
In addition, the pioneering rap group will perform a free show Oct. 9 at the Mann Music Center in Philadelphia.
Public Enemy raised eyebrows recently when it made its first album in five years, "There's A Poison Goin' On," available in its entirety in the MP3 format. The Atomic Pop set is also available in Zip Disk, cassette, and CD form.
Additionally, band front
man/spokesman Chuck D appears with the Artist on a track
("Undisputed") on the latter's forthcoming album. That set, "Rave
Un2 The Joy Fantastic," will street worldwide Nov. 2 on NPG/Arista.
As with the European excursion,
Terminator X has apparently decided to opt out of the upcoming gigs and will be
replaced by DJ Lord Aswad, one of Chuck D's bandmates in his rock group,
Confrontation Camp (see "PE's
Chuck D, Professor Griff Go Rock Route With Confrontation Camp").
The seminal rap group, supporting their new album, There's a Poison Goin' On, will kick off the trip on Oct. 3, at the 1st Avenue Theater in Minneapolis. Currently, 16 shows are scheduled, taking the band across much of the country in a three-week period.
9.20.99 Public Enemy To Work Club Tour In October: Tour will support Internet-premiered album.
(from Live Daily website) by Rob Evans
Rap and online rabble-rousers Public Enemy, who recently tuned up with a quick European tour, will take their message to U.S. audiences beginning Oct. 3 in Minneapolis. The group is supporting the recent release of the album ''There's A Poison Goin On.''
The tour's October leg has been confirmed by Atomic Pop, the band's label. Additional dates will likely be added.
Public Enemy leader Chuck D. took the band to Internet-based Atomic Pop after growing frustrated with major labels. He's been ever-present in the press of late, urging other artists -- particularly black artists -- to take more control of their material by retaining ownership and seeking out new distribution channels.
''Poison'' was the first album
released by Atomic Pop, and was offered for sale via digital download for $8 in
June, more than a month before its release on CD and cassette. The label hasn't
revealed how many albums were sold via download, though Atomic Pop CEO Al Teller
told Billboard that the number was in the ''thousands.'' ''Poison'' hasn't
cracked the Billboard 200 album chart since its July release on CD and cassette.
Oct. 3; Minneapolis, Minn.; First
“I walked away from million dollar contracts, because they had strings attached. They will never give you ownership of masters, because the record companies are merely banking systems and it is imperative that they own what they are spending on. They want to own you for a longer period of time than you would like and the options are always one-sided. And of course, the rights they ask for provide that you work exclusively for them.”
--Public Enemy Number One, Chuck D
What truly defines a revolution?
If we examine the state of affairs in the music industry, and the manner in which music is currently being delivered to the consumer, we can witness that we are on the precipice of a major revolution.
It was revolutionary to fix music to a material to be mass produced and sold to the people in the first place. Over the years since music first began to be sold, there were mini-revolutions in the form of unveiling the eight track cassette player, the smaller cassette, and oh yes, the compact disc.
The newest revolution can be found on the world wide web as music is being sold or otherwise distributed directly to the consumer.
With each revolution, the music industry embraces and ultimately controls the method of distribution to the consumer. In fact, historically the music industry which has identified which method of storing music will be accepted and when.
This revolution is very different.
For the first time, thanks to internet technology, the music industry can potentially be excluded from the distribution process for the first time in the history of recorded music.
That, my friends, is revolutionary.
For the most part, the revolution on the world wide web has been raging on without any participation from the music industry or from urban music.
The artist formerly known as Prince was the first major urban artist to divorce himself from standard music industry distribution and join the revolution on the net.
It should surprise no one that the first major Rap act to follow The Artist’s lead is Public Enemy.
In partnership with Atomic Pop, Public Enemy has released their latest album, There’s A Poison Going On via the internet, before releasing it in stores within the real world.
And just like PE’s revolution started in the late eighties, Chuck D explains that his revolution is not simply for the benefit of he and his group, but has ramifications for other artists.
“The Atomic Pop situation is revolutionary,” Chuck explains. “They are instrumental, but once again, I’m battling the music industry with a toothpick in order to make a road for future artists to do their thing.
“By 2002, I want to see a million artists and five hundred thousand labels do their thing on the web and force the marketplace to be shared.”
While Public Enemy is standing with Atomic Pop for this album, Chuck D is already in the midst of building a supersite--a virtual web community capable of radio as well as e-commerce, which means that other acts will have specific options for avenues to follow to independence.
“We’ve also created bringthenoise.com, which is our multi-media streaming radio station,” he adds.
Public Enemy entered the game in the mid-eighties with the goal of creating new Black leaders, and while some may question his attempts to pave the way in a whole new arena, Chuck says that fighting and leading the way is simply his job in all of the madness, and that some of the major artists of today could not even exist without PE’s prior existence.
“Jay-Z couldn’t exist without Public Enemy. Without Chuck D and PE fighting and still being able to withstand, DMX doesn’t shout, Puffy doesn’t dance. For The Geto Boys and Master P to be as big as they are, someone has to take the hit, and I’m always willing to take the hits, because I know that these cats could never withstand the heat that me or my cats have ever withstood.
“I don’t mind people being on the top of the hill having things, because my job is to fight, fight, fight, so that they can have have have.”
And while industry executives are playing ostrich, digging their heads in the sand and pretending that the web revolution will go away, enough of them are watching to be able to dismiss or attack Public Enemy’s relevance.
Chuck expected detractors, but not to the current level.
“Never before have I witnessed a time in the music business where a person wants to challenge me and my point of view, but wants to remain anonymous. I tell them that they can’t have their foot on land and water at the same time.”
Public Enemy is in a position to help change how music is sold and manufactured, yet Chuck humbly places his group’s actions in perspective.
“These things are inevitable with me or without me. I’m just surfing on the net--I’m just putting down my surfboard and going where the flow was already going. If it happens with me, they’ll say ‘That N--ger was nothing but Crispus Attucks anyway.’”
Industry heads can try to dismiss PE if they want, but they will have to dismiss the plethora of independent Rap artists who are moving music on the web. Those ground-level artists have been there, and now they are joined by the first platinum act to go online and walk away from million dollar recording contracts.
“I walked away from million dollar contracts, because they had strings attached,” Chuck says. “They will never give you ownership of masters, because the record companies are merely banking systems and it is imperative that they own what they are spending on. They want to own you for a longer period of time than you would like and the options are always one-sided. And of course, the rights they ask for provide that you work exclusively for them.”
Rights provided within recording contracts of today have changed. On the ease of restriction side, artists can work with artists on other labels with more ease. However, the original label may still get a cut of the collaboration. On the tightening of restrictions side, universal rights signed away to the record company are becoming more universal to include the web.
“I’ve always questioned universal rights,” Chuck bellows. “If I get to Venus, why the f--k should the record company have the right to my music there?
“Sony wants to not only control all cyberspace rights of the artist, but they want to control the website of the artist. They want to (have rights to) ‘the universe and all the technologies to be.’ The music business prospers on the naiveté of the artist, and my job is to counter that.”
Chuck began his current revolution in 1994, after Al Teller began to talk about the need for the music industry to move toward downloadable technology. On a cut from Muse Sick In Hour Mess Age, Chuck D and Harry Allen prophetically predicted the new direction for PE, which prompted Chuck D to seek to “immediately murder my contract with Def Jam.”
After putting PE’s contract with Def Jam to death, a relationship with Al Teller and Atomic Pop made sense because “you got to have somebody who’s crazy and who is a fighter and someone who has enough weight to resonate. Out of all the companies we talked to, his ended up being the last one, because he shared the same vision and had the right blend of technology vision and savvy necessary to build what we would become part of. Out of everyone I talked to, Al Teller got it, and has understood since 1993.”
“More than a Public Enemy/Atomic Pop situation, this is a Chuck D/Al Teller situation. It’s bigger than the record, because I could have delivered the record anywhere. My thing is the statement of the record. I wanted the statement to be as powerful as the record.”
The deal struck between Atomic Pop and Public Enemy is quite different from the typical recording contract.
“Def Jam would never let you own the masters,” Chuck exclaims. “We license the recordings to Atomic Pop and it’s on a album by album basis--one at a time. If it works, we go on to the next one.
“We also license it territory by territory as far as the worldwide rights. The difference between PE and everybody else is that we worked the world as far as touring, so when we have a contract, we have at least five territories that go into effect: The Asian market, Australia, North America, Europe and of course, Africa and South America, which is newly formed, but growing by the day.
“We made deals with Al for all those territories, because you want things to go through the same funnel, but at the same time, you want to control the funnel.
“At Atomic Pop, we keep a large percentage of the royalties, which is more than fifty-fifty. Atomic Pop is a distributor, and our partnership lies in building more equity in the multi-media aspect. We created deals with bringthenoise.com, and my own label, Slam Jamz.”
The biggest difference between a standard recording contract and what Public Enemy has stricken with Atomic Pop is that the online and offline activities are completely separate. Atomic Pop released There’s A Poison Going On in May, while the project was released in stores in July through Alliance in America and Play It Again Sam in Europe. There will also be separate deals for Australia, Asia and Africa/South America.
Ultimately, all eyes of the clever will be on Public Enemy and Atomic Pop, because even for the wanna-be Rapper in Omaha, Nebraska, it changes the game. As Chuck points out, the current game dictates that “you send your tape to New York or LA, and hope someone decides to give you a deal.” Currently, the savvy artist with a computer could simply create a website and sell that music to the world. Public Enemy, through Atomic Pop will make that game just a little easier as they demonstrate that it can work for urban artists.”
“Whatever glitches exist now, eventually won’t be there.
There are always glitches when launching a new form of technology, and even though it’s good for music, the record companies are torn because it’s not necessarily good for them. However, as Chuck points out, they are virtually powerless to stop it.
“It’s a double-edged sword, because technology beats technology every f--king time. If it’s convenient, people will jump to it, and common logic prevails.”
Any of us can recall how vinyl was pushed out of the record stores, because the recording industry wanted to move to the cheaper to produce method of placing music on a compact disc. Eventually, the same industry will have to bow to the internet, because for the first time, they can not control the new technology.
“Johnny has a computer in the hood, and he’s (using a CD burner to) burn copies of Nas and Hieroglyphics and Missy Elliot (from standard recorded CD’s or even from MP3 files), and the rest of his favorite joints onto a seventy-four minute CD. You know the rest of his friends will want a copy.”
We’ve seen this before, but with different technology. How many artists from Too $hort to Luke to NWA made major cash selling tapes from the trunk of their cars before signing to major labels? How many street deejays made mix tapes and sold them at swap meets before also signing to record labels?
This new technology “will not kill majors and independents, but it will change and open up the marketplace,” Chuck explains, “because it will force labels to approach the artist with more lucrative deals, like fifty-fifty joint ventures. Maybe the ownership of masters will be in question, and maybe the standard companies will all become distributors and just take a piece of the pie.
“They had their big boom when they came up with the CD--taking something that costs a dollar and change to make and selling it in the store for seventeen dollars.”
Chuck sees severe irony in all of this as he repeats like a montra: “This won’t kill the labels, it’s like kindergarten--it forces them to share.”
The most unfortunate part in all of this will be if Public Enemy and other artists jump into this revolution for Black artists, and those same artists continue to line up for a standard record deal. And Chuck already realizes this sad possibility.
“We’ll be the last in the batch. The first ones to take advantage will be everyone else but us (Black people).”
Chuck recalls the past five to ten years when urban seminars were filled with people screaming for the need for our own distribution methods.
“It’s like Jesus--he ain’t coming back in the way that you expect, looking like Greg Allman. It will come and you have to be able to seize the moment and recognize.
“The new technology will not wipe out the standard technology. The old way is established and it’s a rule of thumb that Black folks ain’t gonna get back. We gave it away and it ain’t coming back.”
I recall at a recent urban convention where record company executives, and radio
and retail heads denounced the internet, claiming that no one actually sells
music on the web. I thought I was
in the twilight zone as these high-paid professionals actually stated that the
web was only for promotional purposes, ignoring the millions being generated by
sites like CD Now, Amazon.com, EZCD and independent sites with e-commerce
“Not everybody with a mouth should be granted the right to speak,” he sighs. “For years, Black folks screamed about distribution, and now that it’s here, we’ll just have to wait and see what they do.
“A visionary doesn’t deal with now, they deal with what will be and what can be. Black folks are just learning who Bill Gates is because they saw him at a Sonics game last year.”
The cool part is that some people are paying attention. And those are the ones Public Enemy fights the good fight for.
“I’m not doing this for me. I’m doing this to open up the gap, because I want all of us to become successful. I took a bullshit record contract in 1986 and made it sprout into many possibilities and opportunities for other artists. I look at a Lauryn Hill or Busta Rhymes, and I’m proud that I did things which paved the road for them.
“Thank God, since I got into this game originally in 1977, that I got people all over the world who say I’m relevant as a motherf--ker in 1999.
Yes, thank God Public Enemy is still relevant, and that there are many more acts like them who have more to say than the average Rapper of today, who claims to be a pimp and a thug.
“You have pimps and thugs, ‘never hesitate to put a Nigger on his back,’ and all of this shit is endorsed by major labels and no one says shit,” says Chuck, frustrated.
"A thug and a rebel are two different things,” he continues. “A thug is a rebel without a brain, direction or focus. And it’s always okay for people to be thugs because a thug ain’t a threat to anyone but himself. But a rebel is someone who looks at something with a brain and direction and says ‘I rebel against this bullshit, because it’s adverse to my existence.
“I’ve seen the industry relish turning the consumers into robots, and the artists have an almost single purpose of entertaining whites.”
There was a time when perhaps Black artists did not realize that whites outnumbered their people in buying and listening to the music, but at this stage in the game, even the least savvy artist knows who the audience is, yet still fills the music with N--ger and thug stories.
No one is screaming about the N--ger and thug stories which denigrate the Black image, but you had better believe that when Jewish people had a scrap of a thought that PE was being anti-Semitic, they came after them.
When Public Enemy released the single “Swindler’s Lust,” about the lust of the swindlers in the music industry, the Anti-Defamation League came after them with a vengeance. Chuck says that they misconstrued the whole point of the song.
“I’m being anti-industry, not anti-Semitic with that cut, telling people of my horrorcaust dealing with the industry. I’m telling people that my clicque has been ripped since Bessie Smith, and I’m not supposed to say shit? I’m talking about my personal story, just like the Jews had Schindler’s List, I had to deal with Swindler’s Lust that f--ked me up.
“I have a metal band called Confrontation Camp, and they found a way to connect those two. How can they be such assholes? If I was being derogatory, why would I put myself in the group? I give less than a flying fuck if I know I’m right.
“You’re dealing with the most fearless motherf--ker in the industry.
There are other fearless motherf--kers in this industry who will stand with PE as the revolution is broadcast live via the world wide web.
Rap Sheet is one who will stand and continue to report the developments on the internet as they pertain to the Hip Hop generation, even if a great portion of it has it’s eyes closed.
A revolution can not be stopped by ignoring it. It’s like a train--you can either ride it, or get run over by it.