Mix Tape Maker Jailed: History in the Making

This NYT story is a big sign of our times. DJ Drama, the leading hip hop music mixtape producer in the US has been arrested with an associate at the behest of the RIAA. I wasn’t aware that hip hop mixtapes were the foundation of major lable sales, as the Times and many other sources are now saying. It’s fascinating – both that remixing is truly breathing life into a creative industry and that the practice is being criminalized. Here’s DJ Drama’s MySpace page. Here’s the some very good coverage at MP3.com. That article says that the mix tape medium is one made up promotional music from artists with albums about to be released, though in many cases the songs may use background music from other copyrighted music.

It reminds me of stories I’ve read about MPAA armed raids in SE Asia of buildings suspected of housing DVD piracy operations. Crazy 007 tactics and battles to catch people in the act of dubbing Die Hard movies. It’s like farmers no longer alowed to save seeds that have been patented by western pharmaceutical companies or indigenous people who are convinced to give up their DNA for drug development.

In this case though it’s a beautiful act of creativity that almost everyone, including music lables, appear to be benefitting from.

Super interesting to me is this quote:

“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 on the resale of counterfeit CDs,” the RIAA’s Matthew Kilgo told Fox 5.

DJ Drama may be white but the racism in that statement is clear.

People aren’t going to stand for things like this. Things are going to start changing in a hurry and I don’t think it’s overstated to say this story is an important part of the history that’s unfolding.