On Tracy Chapman’s sampling lawsuit against Nicki Minaj…

Probably the only time you will see a Nicki Minaj post up here. No disrespect…

To understand what’s at stake for hip-hop, Okayplayer spoke with Karl Fowlkes, Esq., a music lawyer and music industry professor at Rowan University, who has gotten samples cleared from artists like Donnell Jones and Roger Trouman.

What are Tracy Chapman’s chances of actually winning this lawsuit, and why?

I don’t think Tracy Chapman’s chances are too good because Nicki Minaj never commercially released the song. This is a weird case because no one is actually fighting the validity of the interpolation. Here, Chapman is challenging whether a song even has to be commercially released by the artist or label to be held liable for infringement involving a sample. That is an extremely dangerous notion. Imagine having to clear a sample before even playing around with it — that just doesn’t make sense. Creativity would be stifled.

How do you envision this lawsuit playing out?

I think that it will ultimately result in Nicki Minaj’s favor. An opposing ruling would severely undercut the essence of creation because of the nature of hip-hop. People send uncleared records to others all the time to get feedback and perspective. If those songs leak, should the artist be held liable? Did the artist really commercially distribute the work? No and no.

Why didn’t Hot 97 or Funkmaster Flex get hit with the lawsuit?

I would think that they are just as at fault as Nicki. But Nicki Minaj is probably the easier target and they probably think that Nicki told the station to play it. Hot 97, in my opinion, should be targeted in this case.

What do you think is the reason that artists don’t like to clear samples for?

I still don’t think that hip-hop has enough respect. Some people cut against the genre when it comes to sampling requests, and also just want to leave their work alone. The reality in this situation is that Tracy Chapman could have sat tight and made thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands more dollars by accepting the sample clearance.

Arrests in unsolved murder of Run-DMC’s Jam Master Jay…

Took them long enough…

Via ABC7NY

Karl Jordan and Ronald Washington have been charged with the murder of Jam Master Jay while engaged in cocaine trafficking, according to an indictment unsealed in the Eastern District of New York that also charged the two with drug offenses.

Washington is currently imprisoned on a prior robbery case. Jordan will be arraigned this afternoon.

The 36-year-old Jordan was taken into custody on Sunday. Washington, 56, was already in prison on a prior robbery case.

DJ Blendz note…

One thing i WON’T DO is post up music i don’t like or whatever is popular at the moment. All my posts or mixes are records I co-sign to the fullest because they’re great records that are overlooked by the masses. That’s why you will never see or hear rainbow-haired rappers with no substance on this here site. Save that for the other blogs. Even the blogs and sites that started out with great content are now falling victim to that mentality. With that being said, I hope that if you’re a regular to this site, that ya’ll continue to support me whether through a like, comment, share or a subscription to my mixtapes. That subscription does help me in these rather difficult times.You can trust me to bring you that “new rap that don’t suck”.

Hip Hop stamps that might save the post office…

Via Mic

Finally, some good news for the cross-section of hip-hop and USPS fans: the post office is commemorating the genre with a new line of Forever stamps. The Postal Service has teamed up with the Bronx’s Universal Hip-Hop Museum to release a pane of 20 stamps that “features four elements of hip-hop: MCing (rapping), b-boying (break dancing), DJing and graffiti art.”

There’s always reason to be skeptical of snazzy branding moves, especially in the wake of calls for change much more significant than branding. But also: it’s the post office! The USPS is having a tough time of it right now and more or less fighting for its life, so they’re allowed to be corny. We don’t want to imagine a world without the post office, and independent artists in hip-hop and all other genres would suffer immensely if the government allows it to die. Nothing wrong with some cringe in service of the greater good.

A DJ Blendz PSA…

A quick reminder: In case any of my readers are interested, I do still have a few of these custom designed USB/flash drives for sale/ mixtape subscription. Just click on the ‘Contact Me/Subscription’ to purchase and/or get more information. The USB/flash drives all have one of my mixes in it so you won’t only be getting a nicely designed USB, you will be getting a DJ Blendz mix. All custom designs are in picture up top. Don’t sleep, get it while these particular ones last!

On the making of ‘Ms. Fat Booty’…

A portion of an article from Micro-Chop’s Gino Sorcinelli on the Aretha Franklin-sampled track by Ayatollah

The pain she channeled into the love-lorn music and vocals on “One Step Ahead” inspired Ayatollah to craft several renditions of the “Ms. Fat Booty” beat before deciding on the best version. As was the case in other Franklin-sampled 90s cuts like Onyx’s “Last Dayz” and Mobb Deep’s “Drop a Gem On ‘Em,” her voice makes the “Ms. Fat Booty” beat unforgettable. Her singing provides the perfect vocal elements for the hook and is also prominent throughout every other section of the song.

Around the time Ayatollah finalized the instrumental, he started developing a relationship with Rawkus records. The label’s A & Rs avoided listening to his beat tapes at first because of their busy schedules, but they changed their tune when he continued to show up at their offices on a regular basis with music to share.

One fateful day, Ayatollah arrived with a beat tape containing “Ms. Fat Booty” and earned himself a seat in the Rawkus conference room. Mos Def was so impressed by the work on this tape that he purchased the instrumentals for “Ms. Fat Booty” and “Know That” from Black on Both Sides, as well as six other productions that have yet to see the light of day. “I don’t know what he did with them, but if you thought those two were some great records, you have to hear the other six,” he told Nodfactor. “The other six were amazing, like really amazing.”

The spiritual successors of the Wu-Tang Sword Style…

Bandcamp does a drop on the new breed of Wu-inspired emcees. Here are a couple you might’ve heard on one of my monthly mixes…

Supreme Cerebral

Prior to his rise an MC, Supreme Cerebral was a talented college football player with dreams of an NFL contract. But after an injury put an end to his pigskin aspirations, he decided to pursue music. The New York-born, Cali-raised artist has adopted both Ghostface’s cadence and his fondness for abstract imagery, as well as the poetic license of Raekwon—which makes sense; when asked what Wu album impacted him most, he states, “It’s a toss-up between Supreme Clientele and Only Built 4 Cuban Linx.” His track with Ralphiie Reese and Eloh Kush titled “All” is the perfect showcase for that reverence. When Cerebral spits, “Venomous dialect / The Wallys is violet / Acquired the flyest / Suede Bali the side shit / Battle designers / Paid thousands of dollars / Rambling nonsense / Now they channel our concepts / Conscious context,” he both shows respect to the Wu in his freewheeling imagery, and knowledge of their tropes with his reference to Wallabees. He even closes the verse by claiming the trio are the “Wu revision.”

Eloh Kush

Eloh Kush grew up in a hip-hop family. His older brothers John Robinson (aka Lil Sci) and ID4Windz made up two-thirds of the late 1990s rap trio Scienz of Life. The group’s involvement in Dr. Malachi “Dwight” York’s Nuwaubian Nation—a religious group incorporating Islam, Kemetism, Judaism, and Native American belief systems—clearly rubbed off on the MC; his songs reference teachings from the ancient Egyptians and Hebrews, amont other esoteric topics. As he puts it, “I was taught to seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave, so I travel through many schools of thought.”

The New Brunswick, New Jersey MC—or “versifier,” as he likes to call himself—started out rapping in a crew known as Angelz Inc. more than a decade ago, but he’s mainly focused on solo material for the last few years. Kush is on the verge of dropping a collaborative project with the Supreme Cerebral titled Clarks Connoisseurs, referring to the footwear Raekwon and Ghostface popularized on Only Built 4 Cuban Linx. It’s an homage to Wu-Tang’s dynamic duo by some of the sharpest swordsmen in the game today.

“iTunes is as good as dead, but Apple Music is rising from its ashes”…

All the answers you need to know on Apple’s killing of iTunes is below…

iTunes is as good as dead, but Apple Music is rising from its ashes. After 18 years of iTunes, Apple is ending the app and channeling you to Apple Music, Apple Podcasts and Apple TV instead. The three apps will be available across all your devices, which means that your music collection is, too. Apple’s announcement this week at the annual WWDC event joins other future updates for iPhones ($1,000 at Amazon), iPads ($249 at Walmart) and Macs, including iOS 13, iPadOS and MacOS Catalina software. But it’s the iTunes announcement that had Mac loyalists up in arms: If iTunes dies, what happens to all your music now?

Closing down iTunes raises big questions for those who have built up musical collections over the years. What do you have to do, if anything, to keep your investment intact? What if you use iTunes for Windows? And what happens to iTunes Match?

Apple’s musical moves underscore the company’s renewed attention to services. Apple has long valued its ability to create premium experiences that keep loyal users invested in the brand’s ecosystem. For a company initially focused on hardware, iTunes was one of Apple’s first major successes in this area. People who had bought music from Apple were less likely to stray. Now, Apple is betting that Apple Music will largely pick up where iTunes left off.

Here’s what we know about Apple’s plans to transition you to Apple Music and the rest.

Does iTunes still work today?

Yes. Apple still advertises iTunes on the website. iTunes will continue to exist for the time being, but Apple won’t support it in MacOS Catalina, the upgrade coming this fall.

Why is Apple ending iTunes?

Apple said that iTunes was initially focused on burning and mixing songs on the Mac, but then suggested it was too big and bloated, and lost its purpose. “How about calendar in iTunes?,” Apple engineering lead Craig Federighi joked during the presentation. “I mean, you can have all of your appointments and your best tracks all in one app!”

Apple describes Apple Music as being extremely fast, which suggests that iTunes performance had gotten laggy.

Do I still get access to the same number of songs with Apple Music?

Yes, Apple advertises a catalog of over 50 million songs, plus collections of music videos (through Apple TV) and podcasts (through the Apple Podcasts app). Scroll to the end for more details.

Does my iTunes collection go away?

No way. Every song you’ve ever bought, ripped, uploaded or imported will already be part of Apple Music when you upgrade from your current Mac OS version to Catalina. All the files that are already on your computer will remain. Apple isn’t liquidating anything you already own, but it will reorganize where the files live.

Even my ripped CDs, MP3s and playlists?

Yep, even those. You’ll find them in your Apple Music library.

Will I still be able to burn a CD with Apple Music?

Yes, if you have an external CD drive and the necessary cables, though this isn’t something we’ve tested yet.

What about backing up my device, restoring my settings and syncing settings?

iTunes is the app you think of for backups and syncs, and those capabilities will exist with Catalina, just not in the Apple Music app. You’ll find them by opening the Finder tool in Mac. That’s the one with the square, stylized icon of a smiling face that serves as the operating system’s file manager. Open it, and you’ll see device will appear in the Finder menu, for example: “Jessica’s iPhone”.

How will I move music onto a device?

If you want to move music onto a device, you open one of your media apps, click and drag from your music library into the folder for your connected device, and it will transfer over.

What happens when I sync my iPhone or other device?

Today, iTunes pops up when you plug in your iPhone to sync devices, but that’s not the case with Apple Music. If you want to sync, you’ll find the setting in the sidebar in Finder. Apple is making this more opt-in (you trigger the syncing in Finder) rather than opt-out (you close the window if it pops up and bugs you).

What happens to people who use iTunes on Windows?

iTunes will continue to work on Windows as is.

Will iTunes still work on older version of MacOS?

You can still use iTunes on a version of Mac that predates MacOS Catalina (e.g. Mojave), but it won’t be available when you make the upgrade.

I’m confused. How is Apple Music different than iTunes?

iTunes is a free app to manage your music library, music video playback, music purchases and device syncing. Apple Music is an ad-free music streaming subscription service that costs $10 per month, $15 a month for a family of six or $5 per month for students.

Apple Music closely competes with Spotify and you can listen to songs offline across your devices.

Do I have to subscribe to use the Apple Music app library?

No. You can still access your music collection if you don’t subscribe to Apple Music. That is completely opt-in.

Is the iTunes Store going away?

The iTunes name will fade away, but Apple will keep the store and its functionality in the Apple Music app. You can call it up if you want to buy new songs and albums, but if you do subscribe to Apple Music, you likely won’t have much use for a store.

What happens to iTunes Match?

iTunes Match is a feature that gives you access to a song you bought through another service, say Amazon. Apple Music already has the feature built in, so you won’t miss out if you subscribe.

What if I like to make my own mixes?

If you like to DJ your own collection and albums, you’ll be able to import those tracks to Apple Music and listen to them across your Apple devices.

What about the Apple TV app — is that where my iTunes movies will live?

Yep! Any movies you bought via iTunes will move to the Apple TV app for Mac.

The Apple TV app (yes, for all your devices, not just an Apple TV) is where TV shows, movies and music videos will live on the Mac, including HBO and Showtime, and those iTunes movies you bought. It’ll support 4K HDR playback with HDR 10 and Dolby Vision graphics and Dolby Atmos audio playback.

Where does the Apple Podcasts app come in?

Fair question, since Apple is spreading iTunes functionality around. Apple Podcasts is pretty straightforward — it’s where you listen to and search for and subscribe to shows. In MacOS Catalina, Apple Podcasts will also let you type a few words or letters to find a show or episode.

Change is hard. Is there any reason I should skip the Catalina upgrade?

In addition to speeding up these apps, Apple encourages you upgrade to the newest version for ongoing privacy and security updates. Learn more about all the changes coming to your Mac with the MacOS Catalina upgrade this fall.