Still Ruthless..The Inner workings of NWA..Intv w/ Jerry Heller

In this interview segment which originally aired Oct 21 2010, we sat down and chop it up with late Eazy E’s business partner and former NWA manager Jerry Heller who just released a book of his memoirs called ‘Ruthless’.

Not only does Heller meticulously detail the inner workings and all the behind the scenes dirt that went on with NWA, he also goes into great detail about the seedy music world of Rock-N-Roll’s hey day in the 60s and 70s where he played a key role. Make no mistake the music biz is definitely grimy.

In this segment we talk to Heller about the music biz in the hey days of Rock-N-Roll. Heller talks about all the key players that he came up with and rolled with including people like the late Bill Graham, David Geffen, Clive Davis and many more. He talks about how he actually was responsible for bringing Elton John to the US and giving him his first break.

Heller breaks down the rough and tumble tactics of old-time music guys and explains that while much of it was mob controlled and sometimes seedy ‘it was fair and that there were fast and hard rules that everyone played by’. He noted that all that changed and went out the window when Death Row CEO Suge Knight came in the game.

Heller talked to us about the importance of negotiating and striking good deals. It’s a key highlight in his book and during the interview he explained how and why Ruthless stayed successful while other small labels which actually sold more records like Delicious Vinyl wound up folding because of bad deals.

Eazy E w/ Jerry heller

Eazy E w/ Jerry heller

He explains the type of relationship he and Eazy E had and how each of them brought a certain style, flare and business insight to the table that allowed Ruthless to be one of the music industry’s most successful record labels. He explained the decision behind rejecting Eazy E’s initial offer to go into business 50/50. He felt that Ruthless should 100% Black owned and that he would work for Eazy. He described Eazy as his best friend and one of the smartest men he had ever met.

He also recounted how the pair first met. Heller said that Eazy offered Alonzo Williams of the World Class Wrecking Crew 750 dollars to introduce him. It was at this meeting that Eazy played a rough cut of the now classic record ‘Boyz in the Hood’. He described the song as Gill Scott Heron, the Last Poets, The Black Panthers and the Rollingstones all rolled into one.

Click link below to peep pt1 of our interview w/ Jerry Heller

Still Ruthless An Interview w/ Former NWA Manager Jerry Heller pt2

Click HERE to peep pt2 of our interview w/ Jerry Heller

In this segment Heller talks at length about the early rap scene in LA and how he got involved via Macola Records which housed West Coast pioneering acts like Egyptian Lover, LA Dream Team, World Class Wrecking Crew, Rodney O & Joe Cooley, Ice T and JJ Fad to name a few.

In this segment Heller talks about why he called NWA the Black Beatles which each player MC Ren, Ice Cube, DJ Yella, Dr Dre and Eazy E all holding down key roles. Cube was the chief lyricists, Dr was the beat maker, Eazy was the conceptualizer while Heller was the financier.

Lastly we talked at length about the crack game and the type of impact it had in the community and how it was reflected in NWA’s music.

In part 2 Heller opens up and airs it out about Ice Cube and refutes Cube’s claims about him not getting paid.  Heller breaks out some solid numbers and contractual breakdowns to illustrate his point. He also touches upon the situation he had with Dr Dre and Suge Knight when they formed Death Row Records.

Heller also detailed the situations that lead up to the group doing the song F—Tha Police and the reaction to it including the infamous letter from the FBI. Heller noted that they recently discovered that Al Gore’s wife Tipper Gore may have been a key reason that ominous letter was sent out.

We also talked about Eazy E’s visit to the White House where he sat down and met George Bush Sr in the aftermath of the FBI/ Police backlash. For Eazy it was brilliant marketing ploy.

Heller also laid out the circumstances behind the death threats Eazy E received and how it was discovered that he was on hit list by some Neo-Nazi-Skinheads. The FBI never bothered to inform Eazy that his life was in danger.  Heller speculates that it may have been because of the F– Tha Police song.

Heller talked about the relationship Eazy E had with the now defunct Jewish Defense League (JDL) and how he admired the group for their slogan ‘Never Again’.  In fact Eazy had plans to do a movie about the group.

Jerry Heller details the inner workings of NWA

nwa original-225We talked about the recent revelations of JDL members supposedly extorting money from rap artists including the late 2Pac. Heller claims he had no knowledge of that, but it was no secret that in the aftermath of the Suge Knight shake down incident where Eazy was forced to sign over Dr Dre, Michele and DOC, that Ruthless was protected by Israeli trained/ connected security forces.

Our conversation later turned to a brief discussion of Black-Jewish relationships in the music industry. Heller felt that the partnership him and Eazy formed was model one and that it helped build lots of bridges.

We concluded our interview with Heller talking about some of his upcoming projects including starting a new record label that focuses on Latino Rap and Music with a message

Click the link below to peep pt2 of our Interview with Jerry Heller

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So You Wanna Be a Rap Superstar? Then You Betta Talk to this Woman-Wendy Day

In honor of Women’s History Month we recently sat down and interviewed one of the industry’s most powerful people-Wendy Day of the Rap Coalition. It was through Wendy Day that acts like Master P and Cash Money got their respective deals. It was through Wendy that artists like Slick Rick were able to get their lopsided contracts broken. A long time artist advocate, she’s the person that major labels love to hate because she’s committed to thoroughly lacing people with the ins and outs of the industry game.

Her website rapcoalition.org is required reading for anyone entering into the business as it contains a wealth of information ranging from the money breakdown when you sign a recording contract, to the politics of getting airplay. There’s information on how to copyright your material, how to start a record label as well as what to look for in a manager. Thousands of people flock to her site or read her columns in publications like Murder Dog where they soak up the information and go out into the world better prepared.

Originally Wendy was based in New York where she attempted to lay down foundation to start an artist union and unite the various factions within New York. She later focused her attention in the south and has been in Memphis and now Atlanta for over 5 years building coalitions and helping the Third Coast maintain their dominance in the rap game.

Back in the days Wendy was and can still tell you how to go about getting signed. Far too often she wound up having to help folks get unsigned because of the unfair contracts the industry puts before hungry artists. Nowadays she’s all about helping folks not get signed, but how to make more money on the independent tip. There are far too many success stories that have come from her camp to name off..

In this two part interview Wendy Day breaks bread on a variety of topics and shows us how to avoid industry pitfalls. We start off talking about the typical recording contract that many up and coming artists find themselves locked into. The most problematic are production deals where the producer is the middle man between the artist and label. In theory the money and resources are supposed to trickle down. In way too many cases they simply don’t and that’s when Wendy gets that frantic phone call from an artist trying to escape a bad situation.

Wendy explained the dynamics of how a street savvy hustler type cat from the hood can get got and ripped off in the music biz. She explained that far too often people enter into the music business not fully understanding or appreciating that many of the big time execs they come across come from gangsta backgrounds themselves. She noted the only difference is that these industry gangstas went and got law and business degrees so they appear legit, but they are definitely about their hustle at the end of the day. many succeed in making artists believe that they are being granted a big favor when they get signed, when in reality they are often times being pimped big time.

On a side note, folks may wanna take a look at the book Ruthless written by former NWA manager Jerry Heller. While the information and juicy stories about Ice Cube and Eazy E may be the thing that immediately captures your attention, the real jewels are when Heller talks about his background and all the power house people he came up with and what they have always been about. That book should be required reading as well.

In our interview Wendy lays out the true meaning and ramifications of RECOUPARATING and how that process keeps artists forever in debt. People need to truly understand what that word means and how it gets applied to ALL artists who sign to these major labels. It amounts to modern day share cropping.

We discussed whether or not industry conditions have improved now that we have high profile artist CEOs like P-Diddy, Jay-Z and others who are signing acts and running labels. Sadly Wendy noted that they have not. The average recording contract even by some of the new artist music moguls have not changed. She talked about the role capitalism plays in this industry and how it gets a lot of people caught up.

We also talked about the need for an artist union and why one doesn’t presently exist. She said lack of unity and ego have prevented this from occurring. In addition some artists are just so desperate to get on that they will literally sell their souls and not heed much of the advice given to them that will in the long run help them benefit.

We concluded our interview by comparing the way the rock industry works vs. the rap industry and the challenge we face in getting local airplay when the major labels are pushing a national agenda.

This is an interview you have to listen to if you’re trying to get into the game. This is our 3 part Wendy Day Interview

Wendy Day pt 1

Wendy Day pt2

Wendy Day pt3