The CIA, Contras and Crack.. The First Radio Intv w/ the Late Garry Webb

Crack-CIA-finalI recently found a copy of a groundbreaking radio show we did more than 15 years ago on my old radio show Street Knowledge which aired on KMEL.. It centered around the crack epidemic and series Dark Alliances which was published by the San Jose Mercury News.. The world was shook when the late journalist Gary Webb connected crack cocaine and how it was widespread in inner cities across America to the CIA and covert operations around the Iran-Contra scandal.

At the time many had suspected there was a hidden hand in the introduction of crack, Webb’s articles confirmed it.. That was especially true for folks in the Bay Area because one of the main players lived in San Francisco.. That was true for folks in LA because the other main player Freeway Rick lived there.

The show that you are about to peep is incredible.. It’s the first radio interview Gary Webb had done after his Dark Alliance piece had ran.. Also on that show is Congresswoman Maxine Waters who called for hearings on this crack-CIA connection..

Long time activist Makani Themba from the Praxis Institute who at that time was with the Marin Institute for the Prevention of Alcohol and Other Drug Problems is on the show as well as Clarence Lusane who wrote a book Pipe Dream Blues: Racism and the War on Drugs which dealt with the emerging drug war.

Minister Keith Muhammad and Brother Ron from the Nation of Islam are on the show.  Rounding it all off is young journalist Kevin Weston and activist Troy Nkrumah both are with the then newly formed Young Comrades

The Late Gary Webb

The Late Gary Webb

It’s interesting hearing all the guests and callers break down how crack was impacting them and their community and the concerns they had with the recent changes in the Hip Hop music around that time…Its also interesting to see how at the time many mainstream outlets tried to ignore Webb and the Dark Alliance series and then when they talk about they tried to dismiss and obscure Webb’s information.. even as much of what he wrote was found to be true.. Webb later ‘killed’ himself in 2004 ..

You can listen to that first interview and peep exactly what Webb had to say about much of this..




The Source Magazine, Eminem, Hip Hop and Race

Here’s an interesting article dealing w/ growing skepticism of the Source magazine, Hip Hop and Race..



It was a press conference called by a high-profile congresswoman, the founder of a magazine once considered “the Bible of hip-hop” and a respected Los Angeles community activist. The goal: to tackle issues of racism in the music industry and to announce a plan “to reclaim ownership of hip-hop for the African American community.”

On the podium in Beverly Hills on Friday were Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles), Source magazine founder David Mays and activist Aqueela Sherills, who helped broker a 1992 truce between rival gangs in Watts. Presidential candidate the Rev. Al Sharpton even put in a surprise appearance.

The participants decried what they characterized as a deliberate effort by the music industry “to redefine and repackage hip-hop for mainstream America” and outlined plans for a national peace campaign with a series of hip-hop festivals aimed at reinfusing money generated by rap music back into communities where it was born.

But there was also an elephant in the room, one that all on hand did their best to ignore: the ongoing feud between the Source and the world’s most popular rapper, Eminem, who is white.

Following a presentation that ran more than an hour, Mays, who is also white, called for questions from the press, but the Q&A session wrapped in less than five minutes. There were barely half a dozen reporters in the 150-seat ballroom.

The light turnout appeared to reflect increasing media skepticism toward the Source since the publication launched a series of attacks last year against Eminem.

Just as the magazine has assailed his character and integrity in the world of hip-hop, the mainstream press has been asking the same things about the Source. In its Jan. 12 issue, Time magazine writes that “outrage has boomeranged on the questionable journalistic judgment of Mays and the Source.”

The public skirmish began in the Source’s February 2003 issue, which included an article critical of Eminem and an illustration of rapper Benzino holding the Detroit rapper’s severed head. Benzino, whose real name is Raymond Scott, is Mays’ business partner.

The attacks escalate in the Source’s February issue, which hit stands last week — with Eminem on the cover. Several articles again paint him as a racist and a culture thief, a white kid who has profited enormously, and unfairly, from an art form created by blacks.

The magazine comes with a CD containing excerpts of a tape Eminem made at least a decade ago in which he denigrated black women.

The Source, which made the tape public in November, argues that the comments refute Eminem’s long-espoused position that he respects the black culture that gave birth to rap and fueled his career.

Eminem issued a short statement at the time apologizing, saying it was “something I made out of anger, stupidity and frustration when I was a teenager.”

The Source frames its questions about Eminem as symbolic of a pervasive racism threatening hip-hop music today, a problem Friday’s press conference tried to address.

“That debate [over Eminem] is necessary to force the discussion to the next level,” Mays said after the conference. “There’s no question Eminem is a powerful force. As a leader, he has a tremendous influence…. As painful as it might be, we’ve got to deal with the issue of racism.”

Yet many in the music press view the situation simply as mudslinging by Benzino and Mays.



Benzino’s role at the Source has been a point of contention before, prompting wholesale resignations of its editorial staff twice when the rapper, described by Village Voice music critic Robert Christgau as “an obvious second- or fourth-rater,” received glowing coverage in the magazine of which he’s “co-founder and chief brand executive.” The February issue has a cover reference to more Benzino coverage.

“There are issues worth debating about Eminem’s rise — the rise of a white figure to the top of the hip-hop game — and how it reflects racial attitudes in America,” says Craig Marks, editor in chief of Blender magazine, which covers rock, pop and hip-hop. “Unfortunately, the Source may not be the best-qualified magazine to lay those out.”

The Source’s discussion of racism and hip-hop, says Chuck Eddy, music editor at the Village Voice, is “completely colored by the feud” between the magazine and the rapper. “We haven’t done a piece on it, and we don’t plan to.”

The magazine’s new issue also charges Eminem, who has been widely embraced not only by Anglos but by black, Latino and Asian fans and other hip-hop artists, with using phrases derogatory to all African Americans. These are based on comments from a former associate, and this time the magazine has offered no audio clips as proof.

“We don’t have any further response to the Source,” a spokesman for Interscope Records, Eminem’s label, said last week. “We’re out of business with them.” Eminem, whose real name is Marshall Mathers, gave an exclusive interview to XXL magazine, the Source’s chief competitor, which will appear in its March issue, arriving on newsstands next month.

“I don’t think anyone around me is questioning where my heart is at,” he tells XXL, which once attacked his credibility because he is white. “I know what I do is black music. I know how it started, I know where it came from. But instead of trying to solely capitalize off it, I’ve been able to get in a position where I’m able to help other people.”

Editor in chief Elliott Wilson said XXL let Eminem address its rival’s questions about his racial attitudes because “despite the fact that you may not be able to trust the messenger [the Source], if an African American kid who’s an Eminem fan has heard that he used the N-word, he deserves answers.”

Dave Mays

Dave Mays

On Friday, some participants tried to draw a line between the Eminem debate and the discussion of ways to incorporate hip-hop music and performers into a broad campaign to reduce violence in inner cities and to channel the music’s economic power toward the improvement of those communities.

Mays pondered the question of whether the Source’s focus on Eminem might undermine efforts to promote meaningful debate on the wider issue of who deserves to reap the rewards of hip-hop’s transformation from a street art form to an international cultural phenomenon.

“He’s up there. He’s the tool being used by the corporations,” Mays said.

As to whether targeting Eminem will do more harm than good in the long run, “that,” Mays said, “remains to be seen.”

Randy Lewis, Times Staff Writer

Rap COINTELPRO Pt 4: DEA vs Rap-A-Lot, Scarface & James Prince

Cedric Muhammad

For the past two days I have attended Congressional hearings on the Drug Enforcement Agency‘s (DEA) Investigation of Rap-A-Lot Records. While the hearings were called by Republican members of the House Committee on Government in an effort to provide evidence or to imply through innuendo that Rep. Maxine Waters and even Vice-President Al Gore intervened to slow or end a DEA investigation of James Prince, the head of Rap-A-Lot records, some of the most striking information revealed in the hearings was the extent to which the federal government had placed federal informants in not just Rap-A-Lot Records but throughout Houston’s 5th Ward section.

The federal government, with the help of the Houston Police Department, infiltrated Houston’s Fifth ward in a manner that can only be classified as military in nature. For at least 8 years, the DEA and Houston Police Department worked aggressively to form an intelligence network that would result in the conviction of James Prince and the shutting down of Rap-A-Lot records. It was also revealed in the hearings that the DEA has over 300 DEA agents in Houston alone and when combined with the Houston Police Department task force currently has over 400 people working the city in the “War on Drugs” effort.

Depending upon whose testimony you rely upon the DEA investigation of Rap-A Lot records began in early 1992 and possibly 1988 when two large cocaine busts were made. The DEA claims that since that time 20 arrests were made in connection with the investigation, with convictions ranging from drug use and sales to murder.

But in over 8 years the investigation never produced proof that the intended target, James Prince, formerly known as James Smith, was guilty of any suspected crimes.

James Prince Rap-A-Lot Records

During the hearings, DEA Special Agent In Charge Of The Houston Field Office, Ernest L. Howard spoke of the great effort and energy expended to attract and groom informants from Houston’s inner cities to be of help in the investigation. Agent Howard explained how difficult it was to “infiltrate the 5th Ward” and that the investigation made “no progress from 1992-1997” until the government began to have success in its efforts to recruit informants in the 5th Ward and inside of the Rap-A-Lot organization.

And Agent Howard left little doubt that the government was looking to use its informants and its intelligence network to build a case that would not only lead to the arrest of James Prince but would which would also shut Rap-A-Lot down, as a business enterprise.

And the manner in which the DEA hoped to do this was made clear during the investigation: the government hoped to get James Prince in jail and to shut the legitimate business activities of Rap-A-Lot records down under the Racketeering In Corrupt Organization Act (RICO) which allows the government to associate entire organizations/businesses with the criminal activities of its members.

RICO is the ultimate guilt-by-association statute in the federal government’s arsenal, which allows it to link the activities of executives with those of employees and individuals with that of corporations.

“The only way that we were going to get the target (James Prince) of this investigation was through a conspiracy”, Agent Howard stated during the hearings.

Agent Howard then offered that there were two individuals affiliated with Rap-A-Lot records which they hoped to arrest and/or turn into informants who would be “key to proving a conspiracy”.

A letter was also released during the hearings written by James B. Nims, Group Supervisor in the DEA, to Rep. Dan Burton (R-In), chairman of the Committee on Government Reform which revealed that multi-platinum artist, Scarface, was a significant target of the DEA investigation and that the DEA was working to get Scarface to turn against James Prince.

In the letter Nims writes to Burton:

“In regards to the US Attorney’s Office, we could not convince them to indict Brad Jordan, AKA “Scarface”, even though I strongly believe we had him tied in solidly on a federal drug conspiracy charge. This was devastating to the case as we felt that Brad Jordan could have provided us with important leads and information regarding Mr. Smith.”

Many close to the investigation say that an indictment against Scarface never occurred because the evidence against him was so weak and that the DEA was willing to do almost anything to pressure Scarface in an effort to get him to become an informant.

The reason that Rep. Maxine Waters was the focus of committee hearings was because of the fact that Rep. Waters wrote a letter to Attorney General Janet Reno in August of 1999, after Prince sought her help, fearing that his life was in danger due to the DEA /Houston Police Department investigation.

Rep. Waters wrote the letter which reflected her commitment to issues of civil rights violations, unlawful search and seizures, racial profiling and police brutality.

Prince especially believed that one of the officers on the case, Jack Schumacher, was harassing him and Rap-A-Lot in a manner that could have led to Prince’s death.

Congresswoman Maxine Waters

Rep. Waters asked Reno to give the matter her full consideration and attention. Republicans believed that Rep. Maxine Waters’ letter to Reno resulted in the investigation against Rap-A-Lot ending.

The reason that Al Gore’s name entered the hearings was because in March of 2000 Gore visited a popular Houston church, Brookhollow Baptist Church, where James Prince is a member. Prince is said to have given the church over $1 million in donations.

Three days after the Gore visit, agent Schumacher was given a desk job. Republicans sought to determine whether there was any connection between the Gore visit and the decision to move Schumacher.

In one of the hearings more bizarre moments Schumacher stated that he heard that Prince had made an illegal donation of $200,000 to the Gore campaign.

When pressed by Congressional Black Caucus member Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) Schumacher admitted that the information regarding Gore and Prince was unsubstantiated. Schumacher told the committee, “It is third-hand information that has not been corroborated”. Schumacher said that he received the information from a source that he had never had contact with before.

Yesterday, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) who represents Houston, questioned Schumacher and Agent Howard regarding the allegations and innuendo that Vice-President Gore and Rep. Maxine Waters interfered with the DEA investigation.

The questioning revealed that there was no evidence that supported the claims.

In total, the investigation brought the power of the DEA, IRS and Houston Police Department against a Hip-Hop label.

Some say that the information that came out of the investigation that revealed how the government recruited informants in Houston’s inner cities reminds them of the tactics used by former FBI head J.Edgar Hoover who in 1968 established the “Ghetto Listening Post” in inner cities across the country – an effort that resulted in the recruitment of 3,248 informants.

The DEA Rap-A-Lot investigation is full of lessons for the Hip-Hop community.

Please read:

Dallas Morning News Full Coverage Of DEA Rap-A-Lot

Rap Case Suspension Wrong, DEA says

DEA Says Rap Drug Probe Ongoing

Cedric Muhammad

Friday, December 08, 2000