“Cop Killer” Redux
“Time Warner should not distribute any music with lyrics that their CEOs and executives would be embarrassed to get up and say out loud,” says Christian Pinkston of Empower America, a big-budget conservative political advocacy group that has joined forces with the National Political Congress of Black Women (NPCBW) to purge the country of “this cultural filth called gangsta rap.” Empower America lists the biggest offenders as 2 Live Crew (them again?), Snoop Doggy Dogg, Tupac Shakur, and token rockers Nine Inch Nails. But what about other record companies that sell rap? “I don't know that they sell as much of the bad stuff,” Pinkston says.
A flurry of publicity has yet to excite the public, even as Time Warner's stock prices plummet. At an annual shareholders meeting on May 18 in New York, a meager 10 NPCBW protesters showed. Later, to drum up support for EA, Sen. Bob Dole reaffirmed the group's message with an anti-Time Warner speech in L.A
Why now? Gangsta rap is on the wane and rap's share of the music market is the lowest it's been in four years. Chalk the brouhaha up to the '96 presidential election. Conservatives like William Bennett and Newt Gingrich formed EA in '92 to sharpen the Republican Party's focus after Clinton's win. Major multinational Time Warner — which recently purchased 50 percent of rap-heavy Interscope Records — is an easy scapegoat: Having announced plans to expand into cable and telephone services, Time Warner is in no position to irritate key Republicans as a sweeping telecommunications reform bill is about to hit the Senate floor. Will they bow to pressure?
So far, neither EA nor the NPCBW has issued any specific guidelines on offensive lyrics, leaving Time Warner and its artists mired in uncertainty. “What's frustrating is that they keep saying they want us to stop it,” says Ken Sunshine, senior vice president of Warner Music U.S. “What exactly is it?”
The Star Chamber
Since it opened during punk's heyday, independent Aquarius Records has been a major player in the local music community, with cutting-edge in-store appearances, friendly staff, and a stellar collection of vinyl. “We carry records that nobody else will,” says manager Windy Chien, “and local artists have always been somebodies to us while they were still nobodies to everyone else.” Run like a nonprofit, Aquarius needs help paying off the taxman, so hit the all-day benefit at Bottom of the Hill Sat, June 10, at 2:30 p.m. Australia's Dirty Three will open, followed by Virgil, Mark Eitzel, Virginia Dare, Barbara Manning, J Church, the return of legendary '60s psyche-rockers Fifty Foot Hose, and much more. Call 647-2272.
By Julia Chaplin, Sia Michel