Former Rap Star & Civil Rights Leaders Combine Efforts to Buy NY Radio Station


Former Rap Star & Civil Rights Leaders Combine Efforts to Buy NY Radio Station

by James Con


Washington DC; In the topsy turvy world of radio anything and everything can happen. In the past 5 years we’ve seen powerhouse urban radio stations that play Hip Hop start off completely dominating all formats and the all important ratings demographics 18-34. Today we see many of those same stations floundering. case in point NY and LA where top Hip Hop formatted stations have drop dramatically in the ratings. We’ve also seen the price of radio station hit record highs-with some urban properties selling for for as much as 400 million dollars (KKBT-LA). Today we see those prices have plummeted along with the stock prices of many of the large companies that own them. Complicating this is the massive economic downturn which has everyone from Wall Street bankers on down to car company CEOs reeling. It is with this backdrop that we meet 42 year old Paradise Gray who recently put in place a situation that will result in a major powermove.

Gray is known by many within the Hip Hop community as Paradise the Architect, a founding member of the radical pro-Black nationalist group X-Clan. They reached their height in the early 90s. Prior to that Gray was the main host and booking agent for the Latin Quarters which was landmark club located in mid-town Manhattan during the mid 80s. This was the place that anyone who was important within Hip Hop would go. It was here that artists like KRS-One, MC Hammer and Public Enemy did their first shows. Paradise was the behind the scenes guru who made this happen hence he was nicknamed the Architect.

Paradise over the years has relocated to Pittsburgh, Pa where he owns several recording studios and has continued to be an avid collector of Hip Hop memorabilia. In his 30 + years in Hip Hop, he has collected everything from party announcement and fliers from Hip Hop’s pioneering days on up to jackets and sneakers from today’s popular artists. Gray has often loaned out his collection to museums and frequently brings his collection for private exhibitions and showings. Among his private showings was a private pre-inauguration exhibit for President Obama and the dozens of musical guests invited to perform on the Capitol Mall and at the Inauguration Balls.

Two months ago Paradise sold his huge one of kind Hip Hop sneaker collection which included footwear worn by everyone from current pop stars Lil Wayne on down to obscure relatively unknown pioneers like Kool Moe Dee and Lightening Foot Jenkins. Moe Dee was a popular rap star in the 80s who famously had a war of words with current rap star LL Cool J. Jenkins is Bronx born legend who built and wired the massive sound systems for Hip Hop’s early deejays.

Gray sold this private sneaker and vintage record collection to the London based BBE Cultural Archives Museum Company for a undisclosed amount of money. It is speculated that the purchase netted Gray well over 100 million dollars. This in turn gave Gray the leverage to amass a group of investors which includes former rap stars, Civil Rights leaders, athletes and businessmen. Three names that have surfaced but have yet to be completely confirmed at press time are Civil Rights leader Al Sharpton former basketball great and current reality TV star Dennis Rodman and Hawaiin born agricultural businessman Weyford Southon The official investor line up will be revealed on Friday April 3rd.

It is on that date that Gray is expected to have his bid to be approved by the FCC to purchase Hip Hop radio station Hot 97 in NY. This once dominant urban giant is owned Emmis Communications which has several other media outlets in the New York area and because of new CAP rules will have to unload several of their properties. The bid that Gray has put forth is 315 million dollars. If approved and Emmis signs off which is what they are expected to do, Gray and his investors will be the new owners of Hot 97. This was the information given on today’s telephone conference call with the nation’s Black newspapers.

Sources close to the deal are saying that he will have to change format and get rid of all the current on air personalities as two of the conditions in the deal. Gray is most likely to either take the station back to its Top 40/ Latin Freestyle format or create a new ‘old school Hip Hop format. Under the agreement he will not be allowed to use the licensed format of Hip Hop and R&B which is what many urban station currently use. As for future on air line up under Gray, sources reveal that Queen Latifah, Chuck D, Da Poetess, BET host Jeff Johnson, Hip Hop Scholar Michael Eric Dyson, West coast journalist Davey Dand Tavis Smiley are among those on Gray’s wish list.

Sources also say that Sharpton who may also be included in the on air line up and other investors will serve in advisory capacity. More details are to follow.

Pioneering rap star Paradise Gray has pulled together a broad based coalition of musicians, Civil Rights leaders and businessmen to purchase a landmark NY radio station

America’s New Racial Boogieman-An Interview w/ Rosa Clemente


 America’s New Racial Boogieman-An Interview w/ Rosa Clemente

by Davey D

Listen to this Breakdown FM Interview w/ Rosa Clemente

rosaclementepr-225We sat down with former Green Party Vice Presidential candidate Rosa Clemente to break bread about a number of issues. First and foremost we wanted to talk about the current speaking tour she is on that addresses the issue of America being a post racial society in the aftermath of the election of President Obama.

Rosa gives an in depth breakdown about this notion and concludes that racism is alive and well and may in fact if the patterns of history hold true, things may get progressively worse because of the economic downturn.

Rosa then talked about how the racism conversation needs to be extended beyond the traditional ‘Black and White paradigm. She says with 40 million Brown and Afro Latinos in this country, that we simply can not ignore the challenges they face. Some issues overlap while others like ICE raids and immigration detention centers seem to specifically target folks in Brown communities.

She expounded upon this and talked about how America’s new Racial Boogieman is Brown in particular Mexicano. She also acknowledged that racism amongst Black folks hasn’t stopped as evidence by the rash of questionable police shootings from Oscar Grant in Oakland to Adolph Grimes in New Orleans

We talked to Rosa about her thoughts around President Obama and US boycotting the Durban Conference on Racism in Geneva because of strong objections by the Isreali lobby AIPAC. She shared with us her experience of attending the first Durban Conference on racism in South Africa and what it was like to see Colin Powell lead the US delegation out the conference when the body declared slavery was a crime to humanity.

Rosa talked about how she was glad that president Obama was honest and upfront about his reasons for boycotting the conference. She said now we all know that he is powerless when it comes to standing up to Isreal which obviously control much of his agenda.

She noted that he has taken great strides to de-racialize all issues and that in many ways its easier for him to not talk about problems confronted by Black men.

We talked to Rosa about her experience in running for Vice President and what lessons she learned and what challenges she faced. She noted that she will not be leaving electoral politics and will keep her options open to run for another office down the road.

She talked about the current crises we are facing including not having Single-payer health-care and not seeing the foreclosure crises be adequately addressed. She talked about the 14 Tent cities around the country and how that was inexcusable for a country that has so many resources.

She talked about the opportunities and challenges facing the Green Party and what she would like to see happen for them in the future. She says with the Republican Party imploding and the democrats behaving more and more moderate the Greens have an opportunity to fill a big void for people yearning for more progressive politics.

We concluded by talking in great detail about the work she is doing with Amnesty International around the issue of Immigration and Detention. She talked about all the new policies, resources and laws being put in place to target those who fit the description of being undocumented. She talked about how many US born citizens are likely to be caught up in sweeps and other types of detaining procedures and may even be connected and accused of helping others come into the country ‘illegally’.

We ended our convo with Rosa talking about the role Hip Hop organizations have been playing in the political arena.

Rosa was very thorough and insightful in this must hear interview.

Listen to this Breakdown FM Interview w/ Rosa Clemente

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