December 2002

Volume 7

December 3, 2002

The Internet

The Internet was created in 1969 by the US government and originally named ARPANET. It was designed as a way to maximize computers. It was mostly used by the government, universities and corporations. In 1983 it was renamed the internet, in 1990 made public and in 1994 gained popularity. 

The internet is a good learning tool and for many, source of interaction via chat rooms, instant messengers and message boards. 

Many of you who read this site post on message boards. It is a good form of expression and enables you to publish your thoughts and see other people's views. In the right environment, message boards are productive, useful tools that singers, actors, their audiences, labels and corporations benefit from. I've seen really kind and thoughtful things written on message boards. 

I've even seen message boards where the owners post under their name. I think that's humble. You can observe acts of kindness and teamwork, read informative news, articles and stories or participate in intelligent discussions. 

Message boards, chat rooms and instant messengers also show people's behavioral patterns. It gives you a glimpse of how kind or how crude people can be and how they conduct themselves off the internet.

People, who display jealous, angry, bitter attitudes through their words, also behave that way when they are not on line due to issues in their own lives. The use of hateful, profane speech indicates those individuals are people prone to temper tantrums, verbal and or physically abusive behavior in their personal lives. Chances are if they were in the same room with someone during a disagreement, they would opt for violence as a means of resolving an issue. 

During on line discussions, people who agree with or try to justify views or actions that society deems immoral or unconscionable, usually compromise in the same manner in their own lives. Just as people who disagree with immoral acts most likely exhibit character and integrity in their own lives.  

Message boards and chat rooms become detrimental and a waste of time when they turn hateful, racist, libelous and defamatory and or infringes copyrights. 

The internet gives people a false sense of security and they erroneously feel empowered to do anything from behind a computer. I've seen very inappropriate things on several message boards. I've seen people write language on some of them that are just profane, clashes over religious beliefs, racist slurs, threats of violence and death and nasty comments made about entire countries. 

You also see people's egos as well. Discussions that aren't about learning, but more about discourtesy, arrogance and bragging. Juvenile? Yes, but some people erroneously think if they show up someone who is very intelligent, it makes them more or as intelligent, which just is not so. Einstein was a very intelligent man who made errors because he is human, however knowing the answer to something he may not have certainly would not make one more intelligent. To use that reasoning to determine one's intellect is invalid.  

I've seen discussions that turned into arguments because some people are too immature to accept other people's views or at least concede to the fact that others are entitled to their opinions. I've seen people posting other people's personal information. One in particular site had the telephone numbers of a few celebrities. If these numbers were correct, I would hope they have been changed since.  

I've seen a lot of jealousy on message boards as well. People fall in love with the celebrity featured on the message board and grow jealous and controlling of them, regardless of the fact that they do not know them personally and have no connection to them. If they feel someone else that posts on there is attractive from pictures they've seen of them, they view them as competition and an obstacle in their way to get to the celebrity.   

There are also people who write lustful, sexual comments about the celebrity featured on the message board. Sometimes when people can't have sex with the entertainer, it manifests itself in other ways. They become excitable, post vulgar, sexually explicit language and encourage the same behavior in others. 

Webmasters - I've seen web sites with professional webmasters who do a good job and in a timely fashion, but I have also seen several who do not. Web sites where webmasters, moderators and company employees have posted inappropriate messages on web sites where impressionable teenagers visit or post erroneous, libelous and defamatory information, that if caught and deemed offensive enough would result in lawsuits. 

I've also witnessed webmasters, moderators, entertainers and company employees flagrantly infringing other web site's copyrights by duplicating content and features from other sites for use on their own. On two unaffiliated message boards, I've seen ideas and information discussion among message board users that were mysteriously and deceitfully brought to fruition shortly after by the web site's owner, but as their own idea. 

Copyright infringement - Theft seems to be a big problem on the net. Last week I visited a well-known photojournalism site that had to close a page of their web site because a competitor was stealing their picture exclusives and passing them off as their own.

The site's Webmaster wrote a letter on the site addressing the issue. He stated that he enjoys making the site, but regrets that he has to close that page on the web site because their exclusives that they send their employees out to photograph are being stolen once they are put on their site. Many people visit the site and the Webmaster posted the exclusive pictures as a courtesy to be viewed by his web site visitors, not to be poached by competitors. 

He went on to emphasize that he can read magazines from other countries and see that his company's work is being stolen. When I read that I laughed because it's something I've thought as well. Why is it that some individuals believe people in other countries do not read publications from overseas? You'd think people would be smart enough to realize that if you steal copyrighted material from a web site, recording or book and put it in a magazine or in any other format, the owner of the work will see it and sue you regardless of what country it is published in. 

Lawsuits - The internet is supposed to be informative and entertaining, but what happens when it becomes serious and lawsuits have to be filed. Lawsuits have irrupted from copyright infringement and libelous posts on message boards. In 1999, a company sued 5 message board users for $500,000 each for making defamatory, libelous statements about their company on a Yahoo message board. 

The statements made by the message board users had an adverse effect on the company's stock. Subsequently, those defamatory statements manipulated the stock market. That got the SEC's attention, which then got involved in the case.  

The company served Yahoo with a subpoena, which granted them the right to obtain the message board user's information such as IP addresses. The company used this information to trace each of the 5 user's identities. They could have sued as many as 90 message board users for their statements, but opted to sue the 5 they deemed made the most defaming comments. 

Privacy Policy - This web site like many others on the internet have a privacy policy or terms of use statement that serves as a disclaimer. Once a person breaks the law, web sites are not legally bound to keep the user's identity confidential. In short, many ISPs (Internet Service Providers) and web sites will quickly cough up your information such as email addresses, IP numbers (and your real name if they have it on file) once subpoenaed. In most cases, the ISP cannot be held liable, but web sites can be sued.   

Last month, the Supreme Court in Virginia refused to dismiss a subpoena issued to AOL, requesting the identity of one of their users who made defamatory statements on a AOL message board. This individual made defamatory, libelous statements against a company. 

Some people believe that if they post under a user name that is not their real name, their identity cannot be traced. That's false. Your real name or email address is not need to find out your true identity. Many people don't realize that web sites log IP addresses, which are computer identification numbers. 

An IP address can be used to do a successful trace and determine the owner of the computer from which the unlawful comments were made. There are even cases where the individual used public computers and they still traced it back to them anyway.  

This information can be used in court cases to prove the guilty party visited the web site where the libelous statements were made or the infringement occurred. 

False stories - Last week, a story was posted on a message board about a famous person having an extra-marital affair. Someone from the press read the message board and then several people in the media picked up the story. It started a lot of controversy. It involved a high profile couple and many people were delighted at the news. I was saddened and hoped it wasn't true. I don't like to see marriages destroyed.   

Once the person the story was about heard about the rumor from reporters, he threatened to sue if the story was printed. When they investigation the origin of the story, they discovered it was not true. The rumor originated in an office affiliated with the person the story was about. An employee was told about a flight that several of the company's representatives and family members took and told it to a friend.  

The correct story involved two people having a friendly conversation on a plane with other co-workers and friends present. However, the employee repeated the story incorrectly, embellished details, exaggerated it and emailed it to a friend, who subsequently forwarded it to another friend, who did the same and the same, until hundreds of people received the forwarded email, one of whom posted the story on a message board. 

Web site rules - There are several actors, singers and companies who have closed their message boards for several of the reasons listed above. Message boards need order. As much as they have disclaimers that people agree to when they sign up on web sites, people often do not follow the rules. Here are rules I feel message boards could benefit from: 

1. No threatening.

2. No profanity.

3. No cursing at other people who post on the message board.

4. No libelous, defamatory statements.  

5. No posting of personal information you may know about other people who use the message board. You would think some people would have the basic manners and dignity not to do something so childish and uncouth, but some people have no character and resort to such things. Some web sites ban people for that. If you read some message disclaimers, they tell you don't do that because it's against the rules.

6. No posting information you allegedly heard from an entertainer, company executive or anyone who works with them, that they allegedly said about someone else, lest it results in a lawsuit. 

7. Learn that not everyone will like the things you do or feel as strongly as you do about a certain topic or person, so refrain from arrogantly insulting people you don't consider to be as devoted or passionate about something as you are.

8. Refrain from emailing other people on the message board spreading lies about another message board user and or the singer or actor that hosts the board, lest it gets back to that person because the person you gossiped to emailed it to the person you lied about and it ends up humiliating yourself and other people.

9. Refrain from going to other message boards and posting negative things when you do not like what is said about the singer, actor or company featured on the message board you post on. 

10. Refrain from sending other websites nasty emails because someone on their site wrote something you didn't like about the singer, actor or company featured on the message board you post on.

11. If you don't like what another person said, do not make another topic complaining about the other topic or posts you didn't like. That creates tension on message boards.

12. Be careful of meeting people in real life that you communicate with on the internet. 

Instant messengers and chat rooms - Do not give out personal information if you do not know the person you are chatting with. 

Some people start up romances over the internet, which I think dangerous. You do not know who is on the other end of that computer and whether or not they are dangerous. Some people can be very convincing.

Did you know that prisons allow inmates to use the internet. There is an internet ban in California prisons to prohibit prisoners from using the internet to break the law, but inmates in prisons outside of California are free to use the internet and send emails. It's ironic that many people don't have internet access, but prisoners do.

My point, you do not know who you are talking to at the other end of the computer. To be fair, some prisoners are rehabilitated and should be given another chance in society once released. However, some are not reformed and you cannot make an accurate assessment over the internet.

Hollywood often includes story lines of people meeting over the net and then in real life. I know of and know people who have done this and it turned out okay, but in general, I do not endorse this, because I've read of several cases where people were abducted by individuals who befriended them on the internet. 

There are also individuals who stalk people over the internet. Some going as far as posing as a friend or family member. There are a number of cases of individuals who have been abducted and or killed by people they were communicating with on the internet.

The internet can be good, but most of all, be very careful. While, it is a place of learning and interaction, it is also dangerous. People sometimes go too far. There are a lot of unstable people on the internet.


December 5, 2002

Pretentious People

There is a Britcom where the main character's last name is spelled Bucket, but she pronounces it Bouquet to give it a more prestigious sound. -Aisha pretentiously trying to pronounce her last name- Good-i-son, Goodisone, Goodisona - I'm kidding.

In the show the character has also said things like "people who pretend to be superior make it so much harder for those of us who are." While that line did make me laugh, it's wrong to think that way. The comedy hilariously shows just how far some will go to be wealthy or to give the appearance of it (pardon the pun).

While it is a TV show, many of us know people like that. Many people are pretentious and it often stems from insecurity. I don't believe in being pretentious. In one of the emails I've received, someone wrote in a nice way, you really put it all out there...and I thought I was being tame. I'm kidding. It was a nice email, but that line made me laugh (probably because it's true). 

I don't believe in being proud. The Bible says it's not something God approves of ("God resists the proud, but gives grace unto the humble" James 4:6 and 1 Peter 5:5). Humility is something that is admirable. I do a lot of things that people feel are beneath me, but when you turn your nose up at people or things deemed menial, it isn't much fun and you miss out on valuable lessons and getting to know very nice people. 

So many singers from countries like Britain, Germany and France want to break America. It's written about constantly in the press where singers are quoted about their goal of releasing successful records here. I've seen acts achieve a lot of success in their countries and still aren't satisfied because their music has not been released here and with success. Sadly, some acts speak scornfully of America when they don't sell a lot of records here. The music here is very influential. America has the biggest music market in the world. America is the fourth largest country, but accounts for 1/3 of the 40 billion dollars the industry grosses annually in record sales. 

An actor who has made many successful films was recently the subject of an article that questioned whether or not his career can be salvaged. His last couple films haven't done the big numbers at the box office his previous films have, though two of them did decent numbers. He has made over 12 high grossing films in the last 20 years, several of which were blockbusters, yet an article asks whether or not his career can be salvaged in a disdainful tone as though he never made a successful film. Slow news day huh...

On December 3, I wrote about a libelous story that was widely disseminated via email and then posted on a message board, which got the attention of the press. More details have emerged that show exactly what happened. Once the webmaster of the message board was alerted to the problem and their company threatened with legal action by the person who was being defamed, the offensive posts were removed. The message board users where nicely asked not to post about the subject, but some broke the rules and continued to write about it anyway. 

They were warned once more and threatened with being banned, yet some of them ignored the warning and stubbornly continued to post about the same subject. Subsequently, the message board has been temporarily closed. 

It shows how simple and ignorant some people choose to be. The story was retracted by the web site, determined false, yet people continued to write about it even under the threat of legal action. That was pride and stubbornness. What happened was perverse.  

The owner of a PR has posted on that same message board as himself. He thought the interaction these message boards provide is a good concept and it is, but it's not something I would advise if you work in the industry. Once some (not all) people realize you work in the industry, they do not know how to conduct themselves. Every complex, ego and form of arrogance will manifest itself in some (not all) people. You will not be able to blend in if you post as yourself.  

Monday, I also read about an internet company that had to pay a judgment of $384,000 because it did not remove defamatory posts from one of their message boards. The individual the defamatory posts were about sued and won. 

Why didn't the company just remove it without it having to go to court? The plaintiff did give them ample time to comply, sending them several faxes and emails requesting the defamatory posts be removed, but they stubbornly refused. The company refused on the basis of freedom of speech and they didn't feel they were responsible for the material, even though the posts were found to be lies intended to degrade the plaintiff.

Freedom of speech at the price of $384,000. The law says you can say or write anything, but not everything written or said is without consequence. Just like you have the right to say or write lies, the subject of your lies has the right to sue you.  

Who would have thought it would have ended up with them having to pay out a $384,000 judgment and publicly apologizing. Most companies bank on individuals not suing because of the cost of retaining an attorney. Haven't they ever heard of lawyers taking cases on contingency. 

I think apart of the problem was the ISP not taking the requests or threats of legal action seriously. They figured it's just the internet, who can prove it and who cares...wrong! These things can be traced and proven. In doing my research for this article, I found several internet libel and defamation cases and with judges finding in favor of the plaintiffs.

These cases are revising liability and libel laws. The internet is largely unregulated, but it is not exempt from liability. Some people don't grasp that. Not only are lawyers going after ISPs and web sites, they are now going after individuals who author libelous material. That's right folks! People who log on to web sites and post lies are now being dragged into court as well. 

Many web sites and their webmasters have been successful in maintaining order by exercising good judgment, but there is still a lot of erroneous, libelous information out there that needs to be addressed. 

While many people who write on message boards are decent, there are also unstable, simple minded people mixed in who's behavior taints the whole process. How else would you explain the things that have occurred in these cases.

While most web sites monitor their content and remove offensive material, several are lax due to some webmasters and administrators not diligently maintaining their site or just being plain obstinate in thinking they are championing free speech by leaving the defamatory material on line, which ends up getting their employer sued. It's unfortunate that companies are penalized for one person's folly, but sadly that's how liability often works. 

Employees can also be sued for playing around on company time by serving their own purposes, when they were contractually obligated and employed to follow the guidelines set by the company. If an employee decides to do their own thing at the company's expense, when they were contractually obligated under a clearly set agreement, they can be fired and sued as well.


December 6, 2002

Racism In Music

I wrote the following article on November 27th and it was scheduled to be that day's sound off article, but I didn't put it on line because of the problem with people poaching off this web site. I spent a lot of time writing this article, which is apart of a book I'm working on (thought it is not the main theme of it) and I didn't want it to be poached. 

This new article I wrote on November 27th, which is posted below, is an extension of what I wrote on October 19th and in one of the interviews on this site. The last article I wrote that was similar to this one was on October 19th. That article was poached by the same label I've written about on here,  shortly after it was put on line. Therefore, I was hesitant in putting the follow up to that article on line. 

However, God blessed me with this site and not for me to hold back what I write for fear of someone poaching it. Therefore, I'm going to put the article on line anyway. While the subject is not unique, I'm tired of writing things on here then shortly after hearing and reading excerpts from it elsewhere, but credited to their artist in his interviews. 

The topic is something that I've read about for years and my dad and I have talked about it several times since I was a kid. He is a musicologist, so the historical aspect of music is important to him as it is to me. The topic is racism in music. He knows many people who have gone through it. I touched on this subject a bit on other pages of the site and I would like to expound on it here as well. 

In doing some writing for my book this week, I called my dad a few days ago to talk to him about some of the things we've discussed about music. The conversation encouraged me to put this article on line. From November 27, 2002:

In the news this week, a black rapper made a comment about a white rapper, stating that if he were not white, but was a black rapper as he is, he would not have been as successful nor would he have been able to get away with a lot of his lewd on stage antics. What he was basically saying is, if you were not white, you would not have sold as many records and be permitted to behave in such a lewd manner. 

While I do not want to get into their argument and I hope it does not turn violent, the comment the black rapper made stood out and opened a lot of issues that I want to write about. There are many black people who feel that way about the entertainment industry and other businesses in general and have been quite vocal in expressing it.

There is another aspect that needs to be looked at as well to explain why one rapper outsold the other. America is the fourth largest country in the world with about 300,000,000 residents. According to census reports, America is 83% white and 12% black. Based on that information one can conclude there are more white than black people in America.

The white rapper's success maybe be due to the fact that he appealed to more white people than black artists do, because some, not all white people may not be able to relate to black artists and their lyrical content. If you look at the audiences at the white rapper's concerts, they are predominantly white  though rap music is mostly performed by black people, as with the black rapper's audiences who are predominantly black.   

An article in the Wall Street journal estimated that 80% of hip hop music is purchased by white youth. There are many white people that listen to urban music, which is also called black music. Some of them are sometimes insulted for liking music performed by black people. They are sometimes called derogatory names like wig*a, which is a variation of the word nig*a. 

For a release by a rapper who is white, that demographic could increase because some white people who normally do not listen to rap music or purchase music by black entertainers may have been able to relate to him more because he is of their race. The numbers show that more white people purchase hip hop than black people, so it is logical to think that the surge in sales the white rapper received may be due to him tapping into audiences of his race, who normally listen to other genres as opposed to rap (I hope that made sense - but you do see my point).  

Racism still exists. Some people are militant and will not buy music by artists who are not of their race and or nationality. I do not mean that hypothetically, I've heard both black and white people say this and read about it as well. I've never cared about an artist's color and I'm appalled when others do. My CD collection contains music by artists of different colors and nationalities.

Some people feel being black makes you a better entertainer. Being black doesn't make you a better singer or rapper and I do not write that about the rappers having the dispute, I mean that in general. There are some white singers who's vocal abilities are more diverse than some black singers and vice versa.

For example, there are white opera singers who have more octaves and greater range than some black R&B singers, hence they are able to perform more music in various keys that some singers may not be able to when the part calls for it.

Where talent is concerned, much like with stereotyping, you can't look at everyone the same. You have to look at each person individually. Stereotyping people isn't very sophisticated. When you fail to look at each person as an individual, you slander a whole race for one person's negative actions. It unfairly and illogically goes against everyone in that race.

This also happens with nations. People sometimes hate nations for different reasons, none of which can be valid. How can you hate a whole country. You can't stereotype an entire country because not everyone in that country will be the same. Not even every country is bound by the same genetics. Residents of many countries weren't even born there. Therefore, everyone in a particular race is not the same (wow - it took all that just for me to say everyone is not the same).  

I recently read about a singer who encountered problems here in America with racism in the music industry. I do not agree with the racist statements that were made. However, initially his American record label was blamed for it in the press in his country. The articles classified it as American label executives being racist. The article basically stereotyped everyone here, though it was only a few people involved in the incident.

I was surprised when I read the article, because I've known about the founder of the label since I was a kid and he is known for fighting against racism in the music industry since the 40's. He was the first person to put on an integrated concert. He loved urban music or black music as it was called then, so much that he would sneak out of his dad's upper eastside apartment in Manhattan to go to Harlem and listen to black musicians play. So reading that article baffled me. 

Then the following day, another paper in his country narrowed it down to a certain race of radio station executives as opposed to his record label. I was right in thinking that something was wrong with the article implying it was the record label being racist.

Regardless of the fact that the new article clarified who was to blame, it still stereotyped every DJ here of that race, when everyone is not like that. I thought the whole thing was sad. There were problems with a few people and it got out of control. Some people ran with it in the press and made it worst by stereotyping people here, until it got to the point where a whole race in the music industry was blamed. 

What's ironic is one of that artist's main supporters works at a radio station here and is a DJ of the race that was mentioned as being discriminatory, yet she plays his records often and says very nice things about him. Like I said, stereotyping is not good. 

You know what else is ironic, this artist's new release was better received in America than in his country. An entire country can't be blamed for a few people's inappropriate do so would be racist and a hypocritical contradiction, which is the very same thing they are complaining about. It also perpetuates racism giving people the opportunity to say oh look what the Americans did, when it was stereotyping and was not everyone here that behaved that way. 

As long as there are people who are racist out there, some of them will get jobs in the entertainment industry and other areas of business. Once hired, they will put those hateful beliefs into practice, favoring artists of their own race over others, rather than doing what is in the best interest of the company and the audience. 

To say there is no racism in the music industry would be a lie. There has been a lot of racism in the music industry since it's inception. Black artists were held back for a long time and some of that is still present today, but not as blatantly as it was then. Anyone who says that is not true is lying or is ill-informed.

A few decades ago there were practices such as black artists recording albums that were fronted by white acts. The voice on the record would belong to black artists, but to market the record to a wider audience, the face that appeared on the record jacket was of a white artist or model. 

It's ironic that someone could hate an entire race, but digest the music that is indigenous to that race when it is performed by an artist of their own color (or so they thought). That unethical practice proves that the hatred and prejudices that some people harbor is foolish and unfounded. Theoretically, they were tricked into liking black artists, but didn't realize it.     

Then there were black artists who would record songs, which were quickly covered by white acts who greatly capitalized on those recordings. Those covers significantly outsold the original versions by black artists. Many black artists expressed their resentment at that practice because not only was their influence and contribution ignored, they were not adequately compensated. 

Many black people felt they were being robbed of their heritage and culture and some still feel that way with a lot of the crossover rap and R&B acts that are on the charts today. Most black people don't mind, but I think the problem occurs and people take offense when history is rewritten to nullify their contributions and crediting it to someone else  -cough- Little Richard. Seriously, no one likes that under any circumstances.

When others are given credit for their contributions and the music they created and pioneered, it is a disheartening experience. Once again, to deny that this has happened would be lying. In the 40's, 50's and 60's several white artists said they were inspired by and emulated black artists. However, history credits them for styles of music they did not pioneer.    

The Chitlin Circuit - Since I was a teenager I've heard acts speak about performing on the Chitlin Circuit. I don't go to clubs and obviously wasn't born yet, but I noticed the racial undertones when people spoke about it. I was raised in Miami, which is in the south and that is the region of most of the Chitlin Circuit. Miami is in the south, but is not southern, as it is quite different from the rest of the south in climate, architecture and traditions. However, Miami was apart of the Chitlin Circuit, namely the city of Overtown. 

Today when most promoters arrange tours, they have the luxury of seeking out venues in areas that are in their demographic based on the artist's genre of music. Ironically, they advertise to their target audience, which usually matches the color of the artists on the bill, but things have improved. During the era of the Chitlin Circuit, black artists played black venues by necessity. There was a time when black artists were not allowed to perform in what were considered white venues, so they created their own and hence the Chitlin Circuit was born.   

Segregated audiences - White audience on one side, black audience on the other with a black performer on stage. That was lunacy. What a ridiculous picture, but it happened. Hypothetically, which side of the stage was the black artist supposed to stand on. It reminds me of a street in Miami called Grand Ave. 

Grand Ave is really posh on one side with white owned businesses, homes and apartments, while the other end of the street is poverty stricken and contains black owned businesses, homes and apartments. It is a relatively short street, which makes it even more noticeable. The transition is evident on one block as you take a few steps. The property values are high on one side and a few feet away, very low on the other side. In many ways segregation still exists, but it's more subtle as with Grand Ave.  

People feel once you become a celebrity people treat you like royalty, but at that time that wasn't the case. It must have been strange for black artists then, because regardless of all their accomplishments, they were still called nig*er and had to use separate bathrooms and water fountains in public buildings. They also had to lodge at black hotels. In spite of all their achievements, they were still treated as though they were inferior. 

It must be strange for those singers witnessing the changes that have occurred with integrated audiences and lodgings and how much some entertainers take that for granted. I can't believe this existed, let alone what it must have been like being subjected to it.   

A few weeks ago, I read an article about a white artist that I listened to as a teenager who most thought was not a racist. However, allegations have surfaced of him making racial slurs to a black employee. I must admit, I was a bit disappointed in him. When I bought both his CDs, I certainly did not look at his color. I looked at his talents. I still love him though and I pray that he changes.  

I spend a lot of time at the record store and sometimes I like to listen to and observe people's buying habits (it's not eaves dropping, people speak loudly in record stores). It's something I've done since I was a teenager. Many times I've seen white and Hispanic people in record stores buying music performed by black artists and it makes me smile.

I don't think anyone should insult people for that. Sadly, some people do and they are out of line. That happened to me when I was a teenager and I couldn't understand it. 

I've also seen something else that is strange. White and Hispanic youth calling themselves nig*. They don't say it in a factitious way, they say it to each other as a salutation or in referring to themselves or in place of the word brother or sister.

The word nig*er means nothing to me, but it's not a word I make a habit of using. The word holds no value to me. I'm black, but I haven't been called nig*er to my face and even if that were to happen, so what. I'm not easily insulted. I feel sorry for people who resort to that, for it is not something God approves of. 

The word has been used as a derogatory term for so many years, but what does it mean. The dictionary defines the word nig*er as "an alteration of dialectal, neger, black person. A negro - in vulgar derision or depreciation." It is a vulgar variation of the word Negro.

Some black people call themselves nig*, but in general black people do take offense when people of other races call them that. White people have asked me why black people use that word, but are offended when people of other races call them that. The reason is black people do not believe another black person would use that word derisively, but are not sure if a white person would still use that term as a blatant or subtle slur because of the history of the usage of that word. After all, people still use the word as a racial slur.   

Recently, a Hispanic female singer used the word nig*a in a song and caused an uproar in the black community. I do not believe she is racist because her own mother appears to be a black Hispanic and she dated a black man for four years. However, she should not have used that word because it is a source of pain and offense to many black people. I don't think black people should make a habit of using that word either. 

While, things have improved, there is still work to be done. There are too many hateful people out there. Some people feel that it's only white people, but that's not true. There are hateful people who are black, white, Hispanic, Asian and other races who discriminate against other people. Individuals who stereotype, scorn and look down on people they deem inferior.  As long as that environment and those attitudes exist, there will still be racism.   

I think color is something you choose to pay attention to. One of my grandmothers was half Irish and half Brazilian. She did not look black. Regardless, we did not pay attention to her color. She was just grandma. I remember spending time with her when I was younger and it wasn't until I was sixteen that it dawned on me that she was not black. She had long wavy hair that went past her waist, olive skin and Caucasian facial features, but it still didn't dawn on me that she wasn't black. It would not have mattered to me anyway. I was not looking at her color. As I said, she was just grandma. It's a lesson, in that more of us should look at people for who they are instead of their color. 

God doesn't look at color, neither should we. The Bible says "But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord sees not as man sees; for man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart (1 Samuel 16:7).


December 11, 2002

Spoilt Singers

Some singers today are too pampered and whine about trivial things that many singers in the 50's and 60's didn't have (never mind that I wasn't alive in the 50's or 60's, but my parents were so ha!). It's not like singers are getting more talented or doing more strenuous work to account for the excessiveness and temper tantrums (like that would justify it), because things have gotten easier.

Singers are given months, sometimes years to complete an album, where the standard allotted time used to be a week. Advances in technology have made the recording process much easier, yet some singers are still whining. Many people should be grateful for copy, paste and looping because some people already think it a big deal when they have to sing a line more than once. 

If they run out of champagne, some singers act as though it's insufferable and they can't be forced to work under such deplorable conditions. I mean they are ready to call OSHA. No, I didn't misspell my name. OSHA is the Occupational Safety and Health Association. They are a branch of the government that issues and enforces regulations for proper safety conditions in the work place.

No champagne, what ever will you do. Hey, maybe if you record your album sober, the lyrics will make sense this time.

It amazes me what some singers call hard work.

I've made an outline for singers to help clarify what is and is not hard work:

  • Construction work is hard work. Singing into a microphone is not hard work, especially when you're lip syncing. 

  • Bricklaying is hard work. Having your photo taken for a magazine is not hard work. 

  • Cleaning windows on a skyscraper is hard work. Smiling for a photo with someone who likes your music is not hard work. You know, smile for that photo like you do when you cash your royalty checks, which that person asking for a photo helped you earn.

  • Being a cop in a drug dealer's neighborhood is hard work. Signing an autograph for someone who bought your music is not hard work. You know, sign that autograph the way you do your credit card receipts when you go on a shopping spree with the money that person asking for your autograph helped you earn. 

  • Being a teacher is hard work. Going to an awards show is not hard work... ok, it's hard work sitting through some segments of the show, where you have to listen to certain songs you don't like by artists you wish would get dropped by their label, but you can't put your fingers in your ears because that would be rude. I'm kidding.

  • Being a doctor is hard work. Doing an interview is not hard work. Well, unless it's a tell all interview or documentary. Crying on television can make one tired and dehydrated. I'm kidding. 

  • Being a mover is hard work. Moving your feet in one of your videos is not hard work. Well, unless you have two left feet.


December 12, 2002

Rare Records

I'm listening to this great album that I finally got a copy of after years of trying to find it. Like I'm really gonna tell you which one. I might want to license some of the material from it. Anyway, I guess you could call it a collector's item *cough* the record company didn't believe in the project enough to press up more copies. Common, isn't that really what a collector's item is. Unless it's one of those mass produced collector's items, which really isn't a collectors item when so many people have it. 

Here's hoping my CD won't become a collector's item in that sense. As a matter of fact, here's hoping none of my projects will become collector's items in that sense. Is it a step up from the reduce bin, though I'm not ashamed to say, I buy stuff from that bin all the time. I'm just kidding. I like great music, no matter how cheap the price. 

Aisha's Interpretation Of What Record Retail Pricing Charts Really Mean

full price - The album is doing really well, if you want it, don't expect much change from that $20!  

sale price - We really need to sell this, but let's pretend we aren't desperate!

special price - This album is a bit old and taking up too much space in the warehouse!

collector's item - A sophisticated way of saying, we need to unload this puppy and we need to unload it now!

reduced bin - If we cut the price anymore, it's going to be free!

Piracy - No this has nothing to do with the collector's item album I bought. The copy I legally obtained is authentic. Yesterday the FBI and the RIAA successfully closed down an illegal CD and DVD replication warehouse in New York, confiscating the pirated materials and arresting the individuals responsible for the operation. 35,000 DVDs, 10,000 CDs and 421 CD burners were confiscated. There are some legitimate replication plants that don't have that many burners. 

In August, the FBI arrested a systems operator for pirating tens of thousands of music, movies, software and games on the internet from his employer's computer. He was sentenced to 33 months in prison (almost 3 years) and ordered to pay a $250,000 fine. That case set a precedent. His arrest lead to the apprehension of 12 other individuals, who are members of internet piracy rings. 

One of the most successful raids happened 2 years ago and was orchestrated by the FBI and  Microsoft. They raided several business in Los Angeles in which 12 people were arrested and over 12,000 pirated Microsoft software products worth $5 million were confiscated.

I think it's good that they are trying to stop piracy. It really isn't fair that a company develops projects and then they are bootlegged. Piracy cost the software industry 13 billion annually and the recording industry 4.5 billion annually. Over all, piracy costs US companies 200 billion annually.

Lawmakers are now pushing for jail time for people who illegally download music. That's right folks, you don't have to pirate it to get jail time if this becomes law. It's going to be difficult to enforce because of the number of people who do this, but I do think this would drastically reduce the problem. They seem to be going after the sites that put MP3's on line, which in turn would reduce the amount of people illegally downloading.

Some people see it as a small crime, but the people who pirate merchandise cost the industry billions and make a lot of money from it. Some people actually make millions off it. I don't agree with pirating, but when you think about it, it's weird that it's something people are going to jail for. White collar does a person look going to jail for breaking copyright laws because they pirated or illegally downloaded music. 


December 18, 2002

Raising Children

My paternal grandmother had 9 children and my maternal grandmother had 5 children. That's a lot of children! I don't have any children yet (I don't even have a boyfriend right now) but God willing, when I get married, I hope the Lord blesses me with children. I think children are so precious. 

I don't know if I would send my children to public school. I think public schools are good, but I would send them to a private school. However, I would not send my children to boarding school. I know some people feel certain boarding schools are prestigious, provide discipline and teaches kids responsibility. Some boarding schools are so exclusive, you have to register your children at birth. 

My mother went to a boarding school when she was a teenager and she has told me good things about it, but I would not send my children to one. I would want my kids with me. I would miss them too much and constantly wonder how they are doing. 

I would be very protective of my children, but I would not spoil them. Sometimes, when children are too privileged, they don't learn the value of hard work and grow up thinking they are better than other people and that's not good. There are children who were over privileged that turned out quite well and are well balanced people, but I still wouldn't give my children everything they want. I would try to make their lives as normal as possible.   


December 25, 2002

M    e    r    r    y      C    h    r    i    s    t    m   a   s  ! 

I make it a point not to get stressed out especially at the holidays. I love this time of year and want to enjoy it. I prefer to spend the holiday thanking God for everything, celebrating the birth of Jesus, spending time with my family and friends, enjoying Christmas shows and movies, enjoying holiday food, looking at Christmas decorations and enjoying the weather. 

The important thing to remember with the holidays is to not get caught up worrying about getting the house perfect, worrying about Christmas dinner or getting the right gifts. Christmas is a time to remember all that God has done for you and celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus. Use this time to be with your family and friends. 

Don't complain and fight as many families do at the holidays. Make this holiday a pleasant one. Peace on earth and goodwill toward men doesn't include knocking out one of your relatives or getting drunk. Forgive each other and be reconciled. No fighting. 

Christmas can be very difficult for those who have lost someone. Bereavement can make you weary and feel tired when you are not. If you need to rest, you should rest. Don't feel guilty for sleeping, but don't allow yourself to get too depressed either. Remember the good things about your loved one. 

For people who broke up with someone this Christmas, I'm sorry. It's a rough time to be hurting over someone, but everything is gonna be ok. Try not to spend too much time thinking about what happened and don't do anything you'll regret.

The holidays depress some people, but please, do not take your life. Regardless of how bad your situation is, don't take your life. I know some people go through horrible things, but things can turn around. Don't hurt yourself. Taking your life is not the answer. You will lose your soul, so please, don't do it. God loves you and you are very precious to Him. Everything is gonna be ok. God loves you. I love you. Merry Christmas.


December 30, 2002

Artistic Direction

For decades many singers have fought against their labels to change their image. They get into the industry, listen to critics, listen to hangers on, groupies, people who claim to be their friends and decide they are not going to allegedly be controlled by their label and management anymore. They change their image, music and be rebellious, then it hurts their careers. It's happened many times. 

There are singers who pretend to be innocent and are not, but do so to sell more records and cover a wider demographic. While other singers are wholesome, but in an attempt to sell more records to a target audience they adopt a raunchier image to appeal to them. The singers who attempt this should note that everyone who has tried this has sold fewer records than they did previously.

Any image change that is from wholesome to rebellious in any form is met with skepticism. People generally don't respond well to it. There are people who won't buy the new image and view it as hypocrisy. Then sales drop and sometimes the singer gets dropped from the label. I wonder to myself was it really worth it to them to jeopardize their career and leave so many people disillusioned in an attempt to be popular. 

What about the people who appreciate you for who you are. How do you think they feel when they see you selling out everything you ever said you were. You can't expect them to respect you for that. You wouldn't respect behavior like that from another person. 

In many ways it is selfish and narcissistic. You shouldn't do whatever you think will make you look popular, regardless of the effect it has on your audience. It's not good to believe your own hype and think people will buy your records regardless of what you do either. No one believes that their record or film will flop, but it happens sometimes. 

You don't expand your audience when you do that. You alienate the people that respected you. They will feel you are contradicting yourself and being a hypocrite. Too many singers get bad advice and try to become what people tell them is popular. 

I know the temptations singers face. Many people want their records to be successful and they want the accolades. However, when you become desperate and resort to profanity, sex appeal, publicity stunts and gimmicks to sell your product, people don't respect that.   

Some artists sign their record deal and put forward an image, then switch on their audience saying it was never them and this new image is who they are. How does your audience know the latest image is you and that you won't come up with another one with the next project and tell them the same thing again.

Ironically, the ones that start off with the rebellious image and then change their minds and become wholesome for personal reasons are the changes that audiences accept more, as opposed to the ones going from wholesome to rebellious.  

Some changes in image really happen. Some people get into the industry and indulge in inappropriate behavior. Some people really do change in a negative way. It always starts with a little compromise. Oh, I'll just try this. Oh, I'll just sleep with one groupie. Oh, I'll just sleep with one listener that really likes my music. Oh, I'll just have one cigarette. Oh I'll just have one drink. Oh, I'll just have one snort, then they are addicted and it becomes a habit. God forgives it, but you pay a price in life for it.     

It is dangerous and creates depressions. If you start drinking, smoking, taking drugs and being promiscuous, it will create addictions and wreak havoc in your life. God did not create your body to endure bad treatment. It has its repercussions, so stop indulging in that lifestyle.     

Then there is the audience when they see these changes in the singer. Disillusioned audiences become shocked and disappointed at the contradictions. It makes people skeptical and pessimistic about others as well.

A clear indication is when entertainers keep contradicting themselves. These inconsistencies can cause significant sales declines and labels and managers know this. That's part of why labels and managers pay so much attention to image. The public is not stupid and are sensitive to these issues. These sales drops can ultimately lead to a singer losing their record deal due to poor sales.  

Then there are people who use the excuse that others are jealous or envious when they comment on the changes or inconsistencies. Sometimes that is true. Some people will look for any reason to insult entertainers out of jealousy. However, journalists are bound to comment and with audiences, it often appears to be genuine disillusionment, followed by contempt. 

When questions are raised they blame the record company and or their management. No one forced them. No one forced them to cash those royalty checks either. No one forced you  to do anything. You could refuse, but chose to go along certain things because you were told it was in the best interest of your career. You went along with something you knew was questionable for the advancement of your career. Sometimes doing that means sacrificing your audience's morality and or other people's careers as well. 

Some entertainers get upset when the public wants to know certain things about their life. Well, why let the public know that much about you. You got the ball rolling with Information you volunteered. Some musicians do not reveal details of their life in an attempt to preserve their privacy and keep the music the main focus.     

Whether people admit it or not, they search for truth in a people's words and deeds. Even if people are rebellious, they respect decency and integrity. Most people have a sense of decency and when the notice it so flagrantly transgressed by someone in attempt to make money and become famous, they do not respect it.

Sometimes I wish entertainers could see how their actions effect their audience. God sees it. He sees it everyday on a scale that we cannot fully understand. People do look up to them and want to be like them. They take the changes in their behavior personally and sadly, sometimes follow their example. I don't agree with idolatry. As I've said on here, the Bible says it is a sin to idolize people and it is an offense to God. 

Many people feel celebrities are more privileged than others and in ways celebrities are because of how people treat them and their finances, but in other ways they are not. "To whom more is given, more is required" (Luke 12:48).

God holds you responsible and to a greater level of accountability when you reach large groups of people. The spiritual ramifications on your life are greater, just as with reaping and sowing. Why? Because you effect more people. So, what is it you are teaching people?  

"Whatever a man sows, that he will also reap" (Galatians 6:7). This is something I do my best to live by. It's something I have seen and found to be true. People sometimes think Christians are prude for living a certain way, but it's more intelligence. If someone were to tell you that the things you do to others, good and bad would come back to you, it would make you think twice about doing the wrong thing.

"Bad company ruins good morals" (1 Corinthians 15:33). When some singers become famous they hire everyone they know, regardless of how they behave or their lack of competency in that field. It's great to want to help your family and friends, but your staff is a reflection of you. Sadly, if they behave in an inappropriate manner, it can reflect badly on you. Sometimes singers are not fully aware of their staff's conduct and it's sad that they are blamed for it. However, sometimes they are aware of what goes on.   

Musicians fight against censorship. I don't agree with a lot of lyrics out there, but I do not believe in censorship because it effects everyone and may prohibit some people from saying things that need to be said. However, I agree with album stickers/parental advisory warnings. Some singers need to censor themselves cause what they are saying is detrimental to their audience. The depression, confusion, bewilderment and misdirection some entertainers create and provoke is not healthy.  

I think female singers need to resist the temptation of performing on stage with little clothes on. That has nothing to do with music. That's ego. That's look at me. That's wanting to be the center of attention. That's wanting to gain certain people's approval and be plastered in magazines to be gawked at, even if it means millions of people are inappropriately lusting after you and turning you into a sex object. That's not commendable and that kind of attention is very fleeting. It does not make you beautiful or better than anyone else. Anyone can dress indecently. Your talent is what should be the main focus, not your body.   

So many entertainers are trying to outdo each other in who can wear the least amount of clothes without getting arrested for indecency. No singer who has gone that route has credibility or is respected after. At first the public finds it interesting, then shortly after it turns to disrespect and contempt. This also provokes similar behavior from other people who are trying to compete. Their are female singers who have made certain skimp clothes very popular and designers have mass produced these items to the point that people notice that teenaged girls were dressing more provocatively. 

I've heard so many excuses and shockingly some of them making references to God when answering questions as to why they wear skimpy clothes. I've noticed several female entertainers saying this. They compromise the values they were taught and then say God inspired it or approves of it. That's not true.

If you are going to dress indecently don't make excuses, put a spin on it or attribute it to God for sympathy from people. After all, Adam and Eve did eat the apple, realized they were naked and sought clothing.   

It's easy to feel haughty when you are doing well. When a person is famous and doing well, performing before audiences, many of them believe their own hype. It is reflected in their speech and often in their lyrics. The fans are screaming your name and asking for your autograph. After all, they are not screaming your manager's name or the CEO of your label's name or asking for their autographs, now are they. It's about you because you are the one that's on stage, right? 

People treat them like royalty, give them special treatment, favors, even let them get away with things they should not. It's easy to be fooled under those circumstances...until their career isn't as successful. Some singers don't even want to acknowledge their label, manager and producers play a big part in their success. You didn't get there on your own and audiences are fickle.   

I saw a singer being interviewed last month and he was being difficult with the people he works with who were telling him the right thing.

I saw a similar interview a few months ago. The record company executive who is a veteran was telling a singer the right thing in the constructive criticism he offered, but the singer did not want to hear it. Anyone who looked at that interview objectively would have seen the truth in what he was saying, but the singer didn't and it created unnecessary friction.

A lot of times singers and writers get very attached to their work and it warps their judgment. They can't look at it objectively, whereas a label rep can because they are thinking differently. Sometimes singers are right and the record company is wrong, but the record company is usually more accurate in their assessment.

As I said in my bio, most labels last longer than singer's careers. So, why be difficult and unreasonable and give these people a hard time when many of them are experienced in the field and working to reach the best results for your project. I know sometimes people have disagreement, but be humble and don't mistreat people just because you feel you can. 

The same people you saw on your way up, will be the same people you see on your way down. You may need their help again one day. Don't believe your own hype and get arrogant to the point where you mistreat and step on so many people that you couldn't even buy a record deal in the future if you got dropped. 

I don't go around making unnecessary enemies of people. Not only is it ungodly and uncouth, it's very unwise. Why do that anyway. It's arrogant. That A&R guy, that intern, that PR rep, that songwriter you are wrongfully disrespecting maybe the CEO of a label in a few years and you may end up in their office looking for another record deal when your current deal expires. Don't laugh, it happens all the time. There is a guy who was insulted and disrespected when he started his career as an intern in a mail room and now he is a CEO of a label.    

Why don't people appreciate their audience while they have the opportunity. Why get so caught up in the industry that you neglect your audience in favor of doing things you deem more important. Why wait until things are on the decline to show them you appreciate them. You are given the opportunity to make a difference in people's lives, why not use that opportunity in a positive way.  


December 31, 2002

Announcing Song Titles

Why don't some DJs announce song titles. I hadn't called a radio station's request line since I was about 12 years old, but last week I did to find out a song title. I called 411 for the station's number, then called the station, then sang the song to the DJ because he couldn't place it from the lyrics I told him. He told me who the artist is and I went to their web site. Am I gonna tell you which artist and song it is? No. I'm not gonna say it to emphasize what it was like when the DJ didn't tell me the song title or the artist's name when he played the song.  

Radio Dispute

There's been a dispute between an artist and DJs at certain stations for refusing to play his songs. The artist and his label felt they were discriminating against him because he is a foreigner and that they were incorrectly classifying his music, but that is not what happened. They were not discriminating against him, as they play artists who are from the same country and are the same race, but who's music meet their station's format.   

Being a certain color does not automatically qualify your music for airplay, even if your race is identified with the style of music that station plays. After all, there are black country music singers and white rappers in the music industry, who are played on stations that meet their music's format and are not indigenous to their race. 

People say a song is gospel music because they hear an organ and or a choir. That's incorrect. Choir and organ music is often used in Gospel music and associated with it, but Gospel means "Good News," which is a term referring to the Bible. If a song has a choir and organ, but the lyrics are not from the Bible or about God, the song is not Gospel. It is secular.  

If parts of your songs do not meet the station's format, they will not play it, regardless of your color. The singer's vocal style meets the station's format, but the beats in his songs do not. The beats are of a completely different genre and it confuses programmers when they hear it because they are hearing two separate styles of music. Programmers in turn, don't want their audiences confused either because that could create other problems. When you mix genres, you end up on Top 40 stations, which is where this singer's music has been.

Sometimes when singers are from a different country, their definition of certain genres maybe a bit different because they have incorporated elements from their country into their music. However, America originated the genre the dispute is centered around and should be given the benefit of the doubt in deciding whether or not those songs meet that criteria. Otherwise it is like going to Jamaica and telling the music industry there what reggae music should sound like or going to Latin America and telling the music industry there what salsa music should sound like, when you have created a variation or altered version of it.   

What really happened was you had a songwriter/singer writing and singing in one genre and producer making beats that suit another genre. They were not on the same page. These producers even wrongfully borrowing from other artist's music, who are clearly not in their artist's genre. 

Therefore, the problem lies in the production and with the artist and record company. Well, it's not really a problem, but when it turns into people being accused of being racist and xenophobic, then it becomes a problem. So the fault does not lie with the programmers or the DJs, but with the label for misclassifying the music and trying to promote it to a radio station market/format that is outside of its demographic.

Let's hope everyone involved realizes this, as it is becoming quite contentious and unpleasant. Normally, I would not comment on industry disputes of this nature, but I'm tired of seeing this issue divide people and the xenophobic comments, slander, libel and the unnecessary arguments it is provoking. 

Charts - There is a song that I've known very well, that my dad played when I was a kid. At the beginning of this year, I heard it was being remade in another country. I wrote about it to a group of people in a casual setting and spoke to my mom about it as well. I said it is a really nice song, daddy used to play it and though I haven't heard the remake yet, it will be a big hit. 

While some remakes are bad, this one was not. When it was released earlier this year, it was a big hit. It spent a month at number one and sold almost 2 million singles, which is a lot of units sold for a single. I found out last week that it was the biggest hit this year in that country. When I read that, I laughed to myself. I also like guessing which songs will do well on the charts and go number one. It's something I've been doing since I was about 8. My parents friend's used to wonder how I was able to do that. It was quite funny. I thank God for that though because it helps me with my work.  

Chart battles - I don't think they are good. Some labels like to think of them as good publicity, but in essence what they are doing is drawing attention to the fact that sales were moderate or not good for one of the releases...and they got their butts kicked. It also gives critics the opportunity to call the losing release a flop, even when the sales are not.

There was a chart battle a few years ago that helped to ruin an act's career. Group A challenged group B to a chart battle. At the time Group A was more successful, but Group B was new and achieving a lot of success quickly.

Group B won the chart battle, selling three times as many copies as Group A. Because Group A was beaten to the number one in a chart battle, the critics called it a flop regardless of the fact that they sold a decent amount of records. Normally it would not have been considered a flop, but because of the chart battle it was looked upon as less than satisfactory. The album that lost the chart battle went on to sell 250,000 copies in that country, which under normal circumstances is considered a success, but the critics still deemed it a flop because of the chart battle (and because it was less than that act's previous sales).

Why do some people feel that an act must sell the same amount of records each time. The music industry has never worked that way. It is not predictable. If there is a significant sales decline where you break even or end up in the red, that's something the people at the label will pay attention to, but outside of that, some people over react. However, I must concede that sometimes albums are not up to the standard of an artist's previous work for several reasons (i.e. writer's block).


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