Be Warned Snitching Is Big Business

This past Sunday night Harlem based rap star Cam’ron appeared on the news investigative show 60 Minutes to talk about the ‘Stop Snitching‘ ethos that exists throughout inner city communities. He definitely came off looking bad as he allowed reporter Anderson Cooper to ask him a number of set up questions including; whether or not Killa Cam was a millionaire and whether or not he drove a Lamborghini.

A smirking Cam admitted ‘yes’ to both questions. He then went on to admitting how he would not turn in a serial killer even if he lived next door. Cam said he would move but not turn the killer in. Armed with this information and a few excerpts about Busta Rhymes‘ refusal to cooperate with police in the aftermath of allegedly witnessing his good friend and bodyguard Israel Ramirez being killed earlier this year, Hip Hop came off looking pretty bad. Absent from this interview with Cam was a historical or political analysis behind the ‘Stop Snitching’ ethos.

We didn’t get a run down about how informants/ snitches in the form of ‘house niggas’ were the ones who doomed numerous slave revolts including the one lead by Nat Turner. We didn’t hear about government programs like Cointel-pro where Civil Rights and Black liberation fighters and organizations ranging from Martin Luther King to Malcolm X and from the Black Panthers on down to SNCC (Student Non Violent Coordinating Committee) were brought down and undermined thanks to snitches (government informants).

Cooper and the 60 Minutes crew interviewed NY Police Commissioner Ray Kellyand somehow forgot to ask him about the ‘No Snitching’ ethos that exists within the police department. We didn’t hear about the infamous Blue Wall of silence. Nor did we hear about the unsavory practices used by police to get confessions and flip informants. Torture, Blackmail and other manipulations are commonplace. We didn’t hear how oftentimes it’s the police themselves who will snitch on snitches. As we learned in the Atlanta conference that far too often its the police who will dime you out when you try to do the right thing and be a witness to a dangerous criminal. The other irony is that often times it’s those dangerous criminals who will dime out their crew after the police apply illegal tactics.Also we didn’t hear about the No Snitching ethos that seems to be practiced by our very secretive Vice President Dick Cheney and Presidential aid Karl Rove. We can talk about the lack of snitching around important issues like the War in Iraq, the firing of Federal Judges. Hell let’s look at 9-11. Also we shouldn’t forget how Cheney went into Stop Snitching mode after he shot his homeboy in the face. The Cheney bunch are the epitome of ‘Stop Snitching‘ . They hold that position much harder then Cam’ron or any other rapper. And yeah try getting too deep into some of these guy’s illegal business and you might wind up missing like anyone else.

During the 60 Minutes interview we heard conversation about how big corporations profit off of rappers like Cam rapping about people to ‘Stop Snitching’. They mention his Cam’s record label Asylum but they never named the executives. They never mentioned the label being founded by David Geffen who is Presidential candidate Barack Obama‘s biggest supporter. Nor did they mention it currently being headed by former Def Jam CEO and now Warner Music Group head Lyor Cohen.

The relevance here is that anyone who works in the music industry knows there’s a serious ‘No Snitching’ policy especially when it comes to talking about how records get on the air. Yes we all know about payola but few of us know who the key players are and how they interact with the music industry. Just as some of those details were about to come out, we saw these big corporations settle. Hence when we have rappers talking about Stop Snitching it’s important to know the entire backdrop. When Killa Cam gets on TV and talks about he’s a millionaire who drives a couple of Lamborghini, its important to know he’s in the company and may have even gotten encouragement from some very powerful men who are ‘Stop Snitching’ practitioners that write him million dollar checks and probably drive Lamborghini’s themselves.
The difference between them and Cam is that they refused to show up on 60 Minutes and offer comment. They probably consider it snitching to go on national TV and even admit to the practice. Maybe they should’ve given Cam the memo.

The other glaring manipulation was when Cooper and 60 Minutes talked about Lil Kim having a reality Show after she was convicted of perjury. She got praised for ‘not snitching’. The Lil Kim show netted BET one of its highest ratings in history.

Like Cam talk of Lil Kim’s show was done in such a way as to make Hip Hop look not only bad but also as the sole culprit of this practice. Cooper and 60 Minutes castigated BET (Black Entertainment Television) for putting on the show but somehow stop short of mentioning Viacom as being the parent company or Sumner Redstone being its head. They made it sound like BET was all by itself, when in fact it was part of bigger machine that not only profited handsomely from the Lil Kim Reality show, but from what I was told had people outside of BET helping make this show popular.

Lastly Cooper and 60 Minutes didn’t talk about how snitching via government informants is a multi-billion dollar a year UNREGULATED industry for law enforcement. Lots of money and resources are spent keeping ‘snitches’ on payroll. We also didn’t hear about the fact that within the African-American community an estimated 1 out 12 people are used as police informants (snitches). Hence this argument about the police not having people willing to come forward is a bit misleading.

In this interview, we sat down with KC Carter who heads up Hip Hop Against Police Violence out in East Texas. We met up at a ‘Stop Snitching’ Conference in Atlanta last month that was put on by the ACLU. We had in attendance more than 100 people who included Hip Hop artists, professors, lawyers and police officers. We had victims of aggressive police and FBI stings which were set up by questionable informants. In this interview we spoke about was the high percentage of people who are routinely railroaded through the courts via snitches and the types of illegal tactics used to get confessions.

We also talked about how informants are used to indict large numbers of people in small out of the way towns with law enforcement using these arrests as a way to obtain funding by showing high conviction and arrest rates.

We also talked about how certain groups and individuals who are willing to speak out against the police or powerful people may find themselves victim to snitching tactics. KC Carter gives a run down of how the Geto Boys and Rap-A-Lot Records found themselves under the gun, especially after it was discovered that the Geto Boys were spending hundreds of thousand of dollars to pay for legal resources to try and few people who they feel were railroaded into Texas jails. KC talked about how informants were flooded into the 5th Ward in an attempt to bring down J Prince of Rap-A-Lot records and that law enforcement went so far as to try and get Scarface to become a snitch.

Yes indeed Snitching is big business in more ways than you can possible know. It’s just a shame that 60 Minutes got Cam’ron to talk about such a serious issue, cause from what they showed, he definitely didn’t break it down the way he should’ve. Well don’t fret ’cause we break the whole thing down in this eye-opening interview on Hard Knock Radio

http://www.kpfa.org/archives/index.php?arch=19554

KC Carter pt1 East Texas..Oppression in Tulia

KC Carter pt2 Snitch Conference and Abuse by Police

KC Carter pt3 Rap-A-Lot Records..Police Pressure and Fear

KC Carter pt4 Mac Dre and Snitch Policie


Return to Davey D’s Hip Hop Corner

Now that Lil Kim is Free Will She Fight For Other Prisoners?

dbanner1newparis

Now that Lil Kim is Free Will She Fight For Other Prisoners?
by Davey D

original articles-July 05, 2006

Davey DLast week during the BET Awards, Lil Kim’s mother and brother came into the press gallery to field questions about her incarceration. They emphasized how unfair it was for her to be locked up and how the justice system is screwed up.

I think it was her brother who pointed out how all sorts of people who have committed heinous crimes do very little time, while Lil Kim got locked down for perjury. It was also pointed out how there are many who done more egregious white collar crimes and have gotten off the hook.

When the BET press monitors finally called on me, I asked them what sort of plans they or Lil Kim had to do work with prison advocacy groups now that they’ve seen first hand how jacked up the system is. Could you imagine they type of attention some one like Lil Kim could bring to the plight of political prisoners like Mumia Abu Jamal, Herman Bell or 2Pac’s father Matulu Shakur just to name a few of the many? Can you imagine the type of attention that she could bring to the plight of the legions of Black and Brown folks who routinely get railroaded by the system?

Lil Kim’s mother said she was not aware of any plans Lil Kim had in the works and they moved onto the next question. Granted things are still early and the Queen Bee is probably still recovering from her 10 month bid. However, it’s an idea that should be seriously considered. After all, her incarceration was highlighted with a BET reality TV show which netted high ratings.

Many big time celebrities ranging from comedian Kat Williams on down to celebrity gossip reporter and former MTV host Ananda Lewis have spoken out about how the system was unjust and was railroading Lil Kim. Very few of us within the community who have family and friends who have done time, would argue with the assessment. Ideally it would be nice if the spotlight to the criminal justice system doesnt start and end with Lil Kim.

Now that shes out she has a great opportunity to bring attention to those who dont have a celebratory rap career. Hopefully she wont follow in the footsteps of Martha Stewart, who talked about how unfair the system was and how she lived alongside women who were unfairly locked up, but once she left she went back to being the media diva and multi-millionaire business woman she was prior to going in.

lil_kimpoutIf Kim speaks up, she would not be alone in terms of speaking out. In the past there have been a few rappers who have done prison advocacy work including Hip Hop pioneer Afrika Bambaataa who back in the early days of his career routinely took a lot of brothers who were getting out the pen and put them to work. Many of them went on the road with him as he attempted to stir them away from their troubled environments. Later on artists like Ice T and MC Hammer did similar things. One of the reasons Hammer went bankrupt was because he had employed scores of people with nice paying jobs who were fresh out the pen. This was in addition to paying for cats lawyer fees and related expenses.

Of course we cannot overlook some of Hip Hops biggest champions of prison advocacy work, The Geto Boys, Michael FrantiĀ & Spearhead, Boots of the Coup and dead prez stand out. Many people dont realize that over the years the Geto Boys along with Rap-A-Lot CEO James Prince have sunk hundreds of thousands of dollars paying for legal expenses in their attempt to get brothers out of prison. While their advocacy work hasnt been well publicized, it was and is well known by folks in power who have grown angry with the group for reaching out.

A couple of years ago I spoke with Bushwick Bill about this and he speculated that the groups willingness to underwrite legal fees and try and prove the innoncence of those railroaded into Texas jails may be one of the reasons that Rap-A-Lot found itself being aggressively investigated by the feds several years ago. Things got so heated for them that Scarface launched a song putting them on blast and naming one of the chief haters within the FBI who was pursuing them. The song was called Look Into My Eyes. Later on Congress woman Maxine Waters intervened on their behalf to help turn the tide, but not before it set off a storm of controversy that landed on the feet of former Vice President Al Gore. But as Bushwick confidently pointed out their decision to help out folks behind bars is not one they regret or would change if they could do it all over again. What the Geto Boys was doing is ideally what more artists in their position should do, especially when you consider how out of the 2.5 million people on lock down damn near half come from our community.

A couple of years ago when Suge Knight was on lockdown he actually took out ads in several magazines offering to pay lawyer fees and related expenses to help get cats out of jail. In his ad he had noted that there were way too many innocent people on lock down who needed help and he was throwing his hat into the ring.

Michael Franti has not only dedicated entire albums to addressing the Prison Industrial Complex, but for the past 8 years he has done a 9-11 Festival which includes a free concert at Golden gate Park in San Francisco which draws more then 40 thousand people. The festival started off as a way to bring attention to the plight of political prisoner Mumia Abu Jamal and has since expanded in both concept and sheer number of people who show up. Over the years everyone from Digital Underground to Talib Kweli to KRS-One have all graced the stages of Frantis 9-11 festival.

The work of groups like the Coup and Dead Prezs is more then obvious and speaks for itself. Over the years Boots has not only done concerts to raise money for Prison advocacy groups, but he himself was known for doing his own political education classes to help bring people up to speed on impending legislation like Californias harsh 3 strikes law and later Prop 21-the juvenile justice bill, which allows for the incarceration of 14 year olds in adult prisons.

In the case of dead prez, their songs as well as their direct involvement and membership in organizations like the POCC (Prisoners of Conscience Committee) have set the standard for the type of work artists like Lil Kim can either support or be involved in. Both M-1 and Boots are quick to point out that they are organizers first and artists second. In fact during a recent Hip Hop conference at Stanford University, Boots noted that if Hip Hop wasnt the platform being embraced by people hood, he would be doing another genre of music, as long as he could reach the people that need him most.

Now granted Lil Kim may not be ready to do the type of work we associate with groups like dead prez or the Coup. However, it would be ideal if someone like her who has such high visibility and is now having the spotlight put on her because of her situation would consider taking things a step further by aligning herself with those who fight the prison industrial complex and criminal injustice system everyday.

what do you think?

Return to Davey D’s Hip Hop Corner

Now that Lil Kim is Free Will She Fight For Other Prisoners?

Now that Lil Kim is Free Will She Fight For Other Prisoners?
by Davey D-

Davey D Archived articleLast week during the BET Awards, Lil Kim’s mother and brother came into the press gallery to field questions about her incarceration. They emphasized how unfair it was for her to be locked up and how the justice system is screwed up.

I think it was her brother who pointed out how all sorts of people who have committed heinous crimes do very little time, while Lil Kim got locked down for perjury. It was also pointed out how there are many who done more egregious white-collar crimes and have gotten off the hook.

When the BET press monitors finally called on me, I asked them what sort of plans they or Lil Kim had to do work with prison advocacy groups now that they’ve seen first hand how jacked up the system is. Could you imagine they type of attention some one like Lil Kim could bring to the plight of political prisoners like Mumia Abu Jamal, Herman Bell or 2Pac’s father Matulu Shakur just to name a few of the many? Can you imagine the type of attention that she could bring to the plight of the legions of Black and Brown folks who routinely get railroaded by the system?

Lil Kim’s mother said she was not aware of any plans Lil Kim had in the works and they moved onto the next question. Granted things are still early and the Queen Bee is probably still recovering from her 10 month bid. However, it’s an idea that should be seriously considered. After all, her incarceration was highlighted with a BET reality TV show which netted high ratings.

Many big time celebrities ranging from comedian Kat Williams on down to celebrity gossip reporter and former MTV host Ananda Lewis have spoken out about how the system was unjust and was railroading Lil Kim. Very few of us within the community who have family and friends who have done time, would argue with the assessment. Ideally it would be nice if the spotlight to the criminal justice system doesn’t start and end with Lil Kim.

Now that shes out she has a great opportunity to bring attention to those who dont have a celebratory rap career. Hopefully she wont follow in the footsteps of Martha Stewart, who talked about how unfair the system was and how she lived alongside women who were unfairly locked up, but once she left she went back to being the media diva and multi-millionaire business woman she was prior to going in.

lil kim

lil kim

If Kim speaks up, she would not be alone in terms of speaking out. In the past there have been a few rappers who have done prison advocacy work including Hip Hop pioneer Afrika Bambaataa who back in the early days of his career routinely took a lot of brothers who were getting out the pen and put them to work. Many of them went on the road with him as he attempted to stir them away from their troubled environments. Later on artists like Ice T and MC Hammer did similar things. One of the reasons Hammer went bankrupt was because he had employed scores of people with nice paying jobs who were fresh out the pen. This was in addition to paying for cats lawyer fees and related expenses.

Of course we cannot overlook some of Hip Hops biggest champions of prison advocacy work, The Geto Boys, Michael Franti and Spearhead, Boots of the Coup and dead prez stand out. Many people don’t realize that over the years the Geto Boys along with Rap-A-Lot CEO James Prince have sunk hundreds of thousands of dollars paying for legal expenses in their attempt to get brothers out of prison. While their advocacy work hasn’t been well publicized, it was and is well-known by folks in power who have grown angry with the group for reaching out.

A couple of years ago I spoke with Bushwick Bill about this and he speculated that the groups willingness to underwrite legal fees and try and prove the innocence of those railroaded into Texas jails may be one of the reasons that Rap-A-Lot found itself being aggressively investigated by the feds several years ago. Things got so heated for them that Scarface launched a song putting them on blast and naming one of the chief haters within the FBI who was pursuing them. The song was called Look Into My Eyes. Later on Congress woman Maxine Waters intervened on their behalf to help turn the tide, but not before it set off a storm of controversy that landed on the feet of former Vice President Al Gore. But as Bushwick confidently pointed out their decision to help out folks behind bars is not one they regret or would change if they could do it all over again. What the Geto Boys was doing is ideally what more artists in their position should do, especially when you consider how out of the 2.5 million people on lock down damn near half come from our community.

A couple of years ago when Suge Knight was on lockdown he actually took out ads in several magazines offering to pay lawyer fees and related expenses to help get cats out of jail. In his ad he had noted that there were way too many innocent people on lock down who needed help and he was throwing his hat into the ring.

Michael Franti has not only dedicated entire albums to addressing the Prison Industrial Complex, but for the past 8 years he has done a 9-11 Festival which includes a free concert at Golden gate Park in San Francisco which draws more than 40 thousand people. The festival started off as a way to bring attention to the plight of political prisoner Mumia Abu Jamal and has since expanded in both concept and sheer number of people who show up. Over the years everyone from Digital Underground to Talib Kweli to KRS-One have all graced the stages of Franti’s 9-11 festival.

deadprez-uk-225The work of groups like the Coup and Dead Prezs is more than obvious and speaks for itself. Over the years Boots has not only done concerts to raise money for Prison advocacy groups, but he himself was known for doing his own political education classes to help bring people up to speed on impending legislation like California’s harsh 3 strikes law and later Prop 21-the juvenile justice bill, which allows for the incarceration of 14 year olds in adult prisons.

In the case of dead prez, their songs as well as their direct involvement and membership in organizations like the POCC (Prisoners of Conscience Committee) have set the standard for the type of work artists like Lil Kim can either support or be involved in. Both M-1 and Boots are quick to point out that they are organizers first and artists second. In fact during a recent Hip Hop conference at Stanford University, Boots noted that if Hip Hop wasnt the platform being embraced by people hood, he would be doing another genre of music, as long as he could reach the people that need him most.

Now granted Lil Kim may not be ready to do the type of work we associate with groups like dead prez or the Coup. However, it would be ideal if someone like her who has such high visibility and is now having the spotlight put on her because of her situation would consider taking things a step further by aligning herself with those who fight the prison industrial complex and criminal injustice system everyday.

what do you think?

Return to Davey D’s Hip Hop Corner