Archive for October, 2000

Seeing how it’s almost Halloween I thought it would be nice to start this off with a good ‘ol camp fire story.

So here goes:

“It was a cold, dark, stormy November night. The driving rain pounded against the roof in a chaotic clamor as lightning lit up the sky. The howling wind haunted all those who heard it’s eerie wail. Then suddenly…BOO!!…George W. Bush was elected President of the United States.”

Sorry for going all Dr. Seuss on your ass, but does that sound scary to you? It does the American Federation of Musicians (AFM).

What’s that you say? The Ameri-Feda ray-of-who? The American Federation of Musicians of the United States & Canada is the largest organization in the world dedicated to representing the interests of professional musicians.

With over 110,000 members, the AFM is an advocate for musician’s rights in the workplace. Along with providing several types of benefits, financial options, and insurance, the AFM negotiates collective bargaining agreements and helps to set industry work standards.

As such, when an organization of this kind decides to speak up about something as pertinent as who should be our next President, l think it’s only proper for us to give them a listen.

At its’ September meeting, the International Executive Board of the AFM unanimously endorsed Al Gore for President of the United States. According to AFM President SteveYoung, “he is the best candidate in terms of preserving support for both labor and the arts”.

Claiming that Al Gore provides the only hope for improving laws that govern union’s ability to represent workers, the AFM said it wasn’t a hard choice to make.

“The Vice President has been a strong supporter of the National Endowment for the Arts,” says Young. “It is very important for musicians to know that our government is committed to the continuation of their art form- and will reflect that in the legislative process.

As controversial issues such as ‘Work for Hire’, Napster, MP3 technology and the like are currently being brought to the legislative table we need a governing body that recognizes, appreciates and will fight for the rights of musicians”.

The AFM’s Executive Board also supports Vice President Gore’s pro-labor stance. “Mr. Gore has stated that he would veto any legislation that passes through Congress that would restrict worker’s collective bargaining rights” says President Young.

He continues:

“For the last several years, the Republican led Congress has made clear its intent to weaken labor laws. Without the possibility of a Presidential veto, some of the most extreme anti-labor elements in our leadership can counteract any progress for workers and affect their livelihood for years to come.”

Other key issues touted by the board include the VP’s proposal to devote surplus budget dollars to paying down the national debt, target middle-class tax cuts and public investment, and secure Social Security and Medicare – while adding a universal prescription plan – for both today’s and tomorrow’s retirees.

A hot issue the AFM is addressing the mistreatment of Latino & Tejano musicians throughout the industry. It seems these artists are routinely paid less and denied benefits. As the Latino population continues to increase – Latinos will be the largest minority group in the U.S. in a few
years – this is bound to be a flashpoint in future relations between artists & labels.

Regardless of whichside of the political fence you may sit on, lethink that
everyone in this business can agree on this: The AFM is an essential part of the
political landscape. The proverbial ”starving artists” need a strong voice to speak
out on their behalf and that is exactly what the AFM does.

I just hope that all of those who benefit from its’ labors will remember to support its’ decision to back Vice President Gore. lf y0u’d like to contact the AFM, you can do so here.

And remember this.  If I said it. I meant it.

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The Dirty South has inspired some of my most innovative disses. There is one group, though, that (loosely) falls into this sub-genre for whom I have a lot of respect. Outkast, the Atlanta-based duo of Dre & Big Boi, embodies the concepts of creativity and innovation.

Not all hip-hop heads can stomach Outkast’s work. True, they work on levels some people can’t comprehend, but you don’t have to be some sort of elitist to enjoy their stuff. You just have to be open-minded.

Some 2.5 million fans copped their last disc, “Aquemini,” because of the lawsuit-inspiring “Rosa Parks.” But these cats have been around since 1994 and their ’96 single “Elevators” made them stars-in-waiting.

Bold, mature and diverse the new album (“Stankonia”)  is the fruition of the labor they put into their first four releases. “B.O.B. (Bombs Over Baghdad)” is a breakneck anthem that mirrors the chaos of war) and, as Dre points out, “life in general.” “Ms. Jackson” is the proverbial “ghetto-Waterfalls” a thinly veiled answer to a stanza from TLC a few years back.

Give the disc a big thumbs-up for what it tries to do: broaden minds. But a word of warning. Don’t go in thinking it’s gonna be some Top 40 lovefest.

Go ahead and say it. Wasn’t it just yesterday that Jay-Z’s last album came out?

It was actually 10 months ago, but who’s counting?

So even though “Big Pimpin’ ” is still getting mad airplay, we have another offering from the Jiggaman, “The Dynasty: Roc La Familia 2000.

As the subtitle suggests, the album is not just about Jay-Z. It comes off as more of a clique album than a solo effort, yet avoids feeling like a cheap attempt at boosting record sales for the Roc-A-Fella coffers.

The “La Familia” tag is an appropriate one because this album is all about family. The whole Roc-A-Fella crew is all over this thing, including the irritating Amil and Memphis Bleek.

Jigga knows this, however, and does a good job of limiting their roles so they don’t take away from the disc’s value. Helping him do this are some of the industry’s best producers. You’ll find Just Blaze, Rockwilder and local geniuses the Neptunes setting sonic backdrops.

Not that Mr. Carter isn’t rhyming great because he is. He continues to show off his outrageous braggadocio on tracks like “Parkin’ Lot Pimpin’ ” and “1-900-Hustler” and spits absolute flame at his competitors on “Squeeze 1st.”

“Change the Game” will get backsides bouncing and “Stick 2 the Script” features some fly piano chords. However, the hangin’ cut is “I Just Wanna Luv U,”

Mistakenly referred to as “Give It to Me,” this joint was on Jay-Z’s mind for some time. He admits that he had the hook for a minute, but “n0 one could come up with the beat until the Neptunes did.”

Despite falling on tired cliches, the CD is a solid piece 0f work, The few introspective tracks give it just the right mix of music to warrant a big-up.