Open Letter to the Hip-Hop Community: What do you think of the #NewRules to Voting Rights?

This is a editorial that was written by Marvin Bing the Northwest Regional Director of the NAACP in response to the Voting Rights Act. He asked me to pass it on.-Jasiri X-

Open Letter to the Hip-Hop Community: What do you think of the #NewRules to Voting Rights?

vote-rights500The Voting Rights Act, first signed into law in 1965, was a keystone victory of the civil rights movement. African-American citizens withstood beatings, fire hoses and dogs to see the law passed. Some even gave their lives.

And for decades since, the law has protected the right to vote for millions of America’s citizens — regardless of faith, color or creed.

Today’s ruling by the Supreme Court strikes down the power to enforce this important law. This is more than a disappointment—it’s an injustice.

The Hip-Hop community has an obligation to respond to this. Hip-hop was born out of the struggle against inequality, poverty, violence and discrimination. It is a genre that reflects those inequalities in order to overcome them and change them.

Millions of young people listen and act based off what artists, DJs, bloggers and On-Air personalities say. You have the power to help them retain their rights to vote and to fight for the millions of people who will lose the right to vote.

Last year, right-wing law-makers made a dramatic effort to limit voting access. They tried passing restrictive voter ID laws, cutting back early-voting hours, and eliminating same-day voter registration. Citizens with every right to vote were turned away from the polls after waiting hours in line to vote.

The Voting Rights Act was invoked to stop these attacks on the right of the people to vote in 2012. Without it, everything would be different today.

Our nation should be expanding voting access, not restricting it. The decision handed down by the Supreme Court today means that it is now up to us, the people, the hip-hop community, to protect our right to vote.

Tell your audience you’re pissed off about this decision. Talk about how important voting is and how the threat of voter discrimination is very real. Send email blasts, make a PSA, light up social media, and make on-air announcements.

You can start by getting people to Washington, DC for the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. In 1965, Dr. King and civil rights leaders led 300,000 to March on Washington, and this historic event is part of the reason the Voting Rights Acts passed 50 years ago. On Saturday, August 24, 2013, the NAACP and other civil rights groups can recreate the momentum with your help.

And we need more than marches. We need to be in our communities educating, registering, engaging, and building our people up with the tools and knowledge they need.

Where’s your hustle, are you up for the challenge? The time is always right to do what’s right. Our young people look to you for leadership beyond lyrics.

Marvin Bing is the Northeast Regional Director of the National NAACP. You can follow him on twitter and Instagram @MarvinBing


Folks Best Pay Close Attention to these Other Cases the SCOTUS Is Ruling On…

The Supreme Court decided the fate of over 30 million people today

The Supreme Court will decide the fate over millions

***Update*** The Supreme Court just ruled in favor of corporations..5-4.. You won’t be able to sue over racial and sexual harassment..

Today the Supreme Court will likely hand down a decision to determine the fate of gay marriage.. Later this week they will also hand down decisions on affirmative action.. Both are important cases and will keep everyone talking… There are a few other cases we should be aware of that will have even more far-reaching impact..

The first case was already ruled on, last week where the SCOTUS made it very difficult to bring a class action lawsuit.. The case they ruled on involved small merchants banning together to stop the tyranny imposed upon them by credit card companies. In this case it was American Express. If there’s an issue each small merchant must handle it through arbitration…There is no way to deal with a problem that may be systemic..This is important and I hope folks take heed, because this sets precedent for what has been an effective weapon to push back on corporate over reach..

The other case they will decide upon will make it harder for employees to sue on the basis of racial and sexual harassment.. What the US Chamber of commerce and others are pushing for is for a redefinition of what it means to be a ‘supervisor’… They want it to specifically to mean someone who can hire and fire.. So if you are on a job and have a co-worker who is ‘supervising’ you and causing you grief, it will be hard to bring a lawsuit for a ‘hostile’ work environment.. Workplaces are already difficult to deal with, this will now make it shear hell. An article in today’s Think Progress breaks it down like this:

The law provides very robust protections to employees who are harassed by their supervisors, but it is drastically more difficult for an employee to win a racial or sexual harassment lawsuit if they have only been harassed by coworkers. In the later case the worker must show that their employer has “been negligent either in discovering or remedying the harassment.” For this reason, it matters a great deal who qualifies as a “supervisor” for purposes of sexual harassment law. If the word is defined too narrowly, it could encompass employees who have the power to intimidate their victims into keeping their harassment secret.

You can read the entire article HERE:

I hope folks stay abreast of such rulings and understand that its rulings like these that favor corporations that will impact us for decades to come.. We already see the impact in places where we have work at will rules and in other places where union organizing is damn near outlawed..

-Davey D-

Music Industry Execs Want NightClub & Hip Hop DJs to Pay Royalties for Songs-Case Before Appeals Court

Last week the eyes and ears of the country were focused on the Supreme Court as they started oral arguments around the constitutionality of key aspects of the Affordable Healthcare Act. Outside the Supreme Court things were contentious as advocates squared off with Tea Party types who opposed having HCR to be a requirement.Many said this case would be one for the history books…a landmark case for the ages.

Not too far from the Supreme Court sits the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. There another case of historic proportions is underway. The large crowds and onslaught of media trucks weren’t present, yet what comes of this Court of Appeals could have an immediate and long lasting impact for anyone who listens or plays music in today’s digital world. In these hallowed halls justices are debating copyright and who pays for what when it comes to music. The proceedings are entering it’s 4th week.

What’s at stake is whether or not the 3 appointed administrative judges who make up the US Copyright Royalty Board are constitutional. For those who don’t know, this 3 judge body which  consists of James Scott Sledge (Chief Copyright Royalty Judge), Stanley Wisniewski, and William J. Roberts are the ones who soley determine royalty rates and set terms for copyright statutory licenses. many have suggested these 3 individuals who are appointed by the Librarian of Congress are too powerful and need to have additional oversight.

For a long time very little attention was paid to this office, but in recent years the CRB has determined royalty rates for Internet radio, Satellite radio like Sirius XM, cable TV, cell phones, ring tones and anything else where music is broadcasted or transmitted digitally.  Many feel that over the years the rulings from CRB have been a Godsend for corporate copyright owners, major record labels, publishing houses who been able to collect enormous sums of money from digital music users.

The most recent rates set by the CRB, which will stay in effect to 2015, require commercial internet stations to pay upwards to $50,000 per station annually and .25 cent per song/ per listener. Many webcasters, including the world’s largest, Pandora as well as many others who own digital media businesses, have long complained thatCRB royalty rates were too high and crippling business.  On the other side, music industry tycoons have been clamoring to charge more. They said anyone using music in digital form hasn’t paid enough and needs to ante up  and help fill their coffers.  It’s a vicious tug of war that has led to CRB’s constitutionally being challenged.

It’ll be at least a year before the final arguments are heard in before the Appeals Court, in the meantime industry executives have been rushing to put ironclad laws in place, so in the event CRB is dismantled the rulings they enacted stay in place.

Industry tycoons wanna start charging DJs to play their songs

Industry tycoons are now turning their sights to Club and Mobile DJs and want to start charging them for the commercial and non commercial use of their songs. This added fee would be on top of what night clubs and restaurants already pay to organizations like ASCAP and BMI. They’ve been emboldened by a recent 9th Circuit court ruling where deejays were found to be in breach of copyright for playing music at Roscoe Chicken and Waffles in Los Angeles.. You can read that case HERE

Industry big wigs are anxious to get a ruling on DJs just as American Idol executive Simon Cowell is set to launch a DJ Talent Show.. You can read about that HERE Many feel that the DJ talent show will move millions away from playing instruments and into the DJ realm which now thanks to digital tools  and mp3s make it easy for anyone to get involved in the profession. many are seeing the potential for huge dollar signs..Others see dollar signs but have a specific beef..

If Ernie Le Saviour has his the way music is presented will be forever changed

Ernie Le Saviour  a veteran musician, film maker and now music executive has been leading the charge.In a recent interview he said; “DJs have been illegally profiting off the hard work us musicians put in. They make thousands of dollars a night and we don’t see one red cent.”

Saviour continued, “What really chaps my hide, is these DJs have been illegally rearranging (mixing) and  ruining the composition of songs. A lot of hard work was put into making a song. As a professional flautist, one needs to understand that hours were spent perfecting the final product. We didn’t put our heart and soul into a song only to have some lazy, non-musicially inclined disc jockey to go tinkering and MIS-arranging our stuff”.

Saviour who is a flute player, can be heard playing in the back of classic songs like Flashlight by Parliament, Getaway by Earth Wind & Fire and most notably Paid in Full by Eric B & Rakim. He is scheduled to testify next week before the Court of Appeals. There he will plans to express his outrage at nightclub deejays..

Savior explains; Late last year, My son dragged me went to some fancy nightclub in Vegas where I had to pay 50 dollars to go see some bib Black guy with a 1960s style Afro and an Afro pick in his head spin records. My son was all excited and told me it Questluv. I thought it was strange, because this guy Questluv is a musician.. I see him every night on one the Jimmy Fallon show where plays drums..”

“Seeing him on the turntables troubled me. I kept asking myself; ‘Why would a professional drummer be deejaying? In my world that’s going backwards.  As a professional flautist, I would never stoop down and deejay.  It takes skillz to requires very little to spin”, said Saviour

DJs like Questluv have angered Ernie Le Saviour

He continued; “Anyway as the night goes on, we’re getting ready to leave when suddenly I hear this song ‘Paid in Full’. This is the song where I play both the transverse flute and the western style, Db piccolo better known as a soprano flute.  I’m excited and thinking this large crowd will get to hear a master musician. Then boom disappointment.. First problem This DJ Mr Questluv, sped the song up, so when you hear me playing my flute its in an F key when the original was done in a C…That was unacceptable”

Savior goes on; “Next problem is this Quest guy cuts off the flute mid stream, right before my crescendo. He repeats this over and over again.(Quest was back spinning)”

“I told my son, ‘That is not how the song was made’ . It made me look incompetent. As a professional a flautist I was embarrassed. Who gave this deejay permission to change the arrangement in my song.. in front of hundreds of people nevertheless.? I said to my son there ought to be law against this and I wanna be compensated”

Congressman John Conyers

Saviour expressed his outrage to fellow music executives. He called Congressman John Conyers who has doing lots of work to help musicians get paid through a performance royalty tax under HR 848. Conyers wants radio stations to pay for each song they air and may soon get his way.. Saviour who attended two briefings put on by Conyers, concluded: “If radio can pay, why can’t these damn deejays?”

The way current copyright laws are written now, Ernie Le Saviour is not entitled to any compensation accept what is determined by ASCAP or BMI.. If he has his way sections 114 and 115 of current copyright law will be re-written to add provisions that will apply to deejays and remixers.

Saviour says anyone who presents music in a digital form on popular platforms like Serato, Torque or any other digital music device, either as  deejay or any other presenter, should be required to obtain a compulsory license before rearranging a song in public. In other words you will not be allowed to, mix, remix or alter the song in anyway without the permission of the artist and copyright holders.  Saviour contends that the public has a right and reasonable expectation to hear the music as it was originally intended.

“Can you imagine if I ran up on stage and started playing the drums any old way and said it was a Questluv composition? It would be foul.. So I ask that people not mess with the arrangement of my flute. As a professional flautist I have standards and they can’t be respected, then we’ll have to legislate it.”

Saviour also wants deejays to pay similar rates like Internet Radio, 25 cent per song..he noted that with the new technology, digital devices can be checked remotely, so as soon as a deejay puts on a record, it will leave digital footprint allowing Saviour and other executives to collect royalties.. Thus far Saviour’s proposal is being well received and may get some favor before the Appeals Court.

Ernie Le Saviour will be address the Appeals Court of District of Columbia this Wednesday at 2pm EST.. If you would like to weigh in or get more info on how to support or oppose.. You can reach out HERE

written by Davey D