Music Industry Confession

The Secret Meeting that Changed Rap Music and Destroyed a Generation


We love a good conspiracy theory. But even the ones that ring true can’t always be trusted. But then again, our entire global history is rife with real conspiracies, not just theories.

Wax Poetics, along with many other good people in the music and publishing industry, received this email today from an anonymous source claiming to be a former insider. We have chosen to post this for our audience to read, but we neither support nor argue against the claims of Mr. “John Smith.”


After more than 20 years, I’ve finally decided to tell the world what I witnessed in 1991, which I believe was one of the biggest turning point in popular music, and ultimately American society. I have struggled for a long time weighing the pros and cons of making this story public as I was reluctant to implicate the individuals who were present that day. So I’ve simply decided to leave out names and all the details that may risk my personal well being and that of those who were, like me, dragged into something they weren’t ready for.

Between the late 80’s and early 90’s, I was what you may call a “decision maker” with one of the more established company in the music industry. I came from Europe in the early 80’s and quickly established myself in the business. The industry was different back then. Since technology and media weren’t accessible to people like they are today, the industry had more control over the public and had the means to influence them anyway it wanted. This may explain why in early 1991, I was invited to attend a closed door meeting with a small group of music business insiders to discuss rap music’s new direction. Little did I know that we would be asked to participate in one of the most unethical and destructive business practice I’ve ever seen.

The meeting was held at a private residence on the outskirts of Los Angeles. I remember about 25 to 30 people being there, most of them familiar faces. Speaking to those I knew, we joked about the theme of the meeting as many of us did not care for rap music and failed to see the purpose of being invited to a private gathering to discuss its future. Among the attendees was a small group of unfamiliar faces who stayed to themselves and made no attempt to socialize beyond their circle. Based on their behavior and formal appearances, they didn’t seem to be in our industry. Our casual chatter was interrupted when we were asked to sign a confidentiality agreement preventing us from publicly discussing the information presented during the meeting. Needless to say, this intrigued and in some cases disturbed many of us. The agreement was only a page long but very clear on the matter and consequences which stated that violating the terms would result in job termination. We asked several people what this meeting was about and the reason for such secrecy but couldn’t find anyone who had answers for us. A few people refused to sign and walked out. No one stopped them. I was tempted to follow but curiosity got the best of me. A man who was part of the “unfamiliar” group collected the agreements from us.

Quickly after the meeting began, one of my industry colleagues (who shall remain nameless like everyone else) thanked us for attending. He then gave the floor to a man who only introduced himself by first name and gave no further details about his personal background. I think he was the owner of the residence but it was never confirmed. He briefly praised all of us for the success we had achieved in our industry and congratulated us for being selected as part of this small group of “decision makers”. At this point I begin to feel slightly uncomfortable at the strangeness of this gathering. The subject quickly changed as the speaker went on to tell us that the respective companies we represented had invested in a very profitable industry which could become even more rewarding with our active involvement. He explained that the companies we work for had invested millions into the building of privately owned prisons and that our positions of influence in the music industry would actually impact the profitability of these investments. I remember many of us in the group immediately looking at each other in confusion. At the time, I didn’t know what a private prison was but I wasn’t the only one. Sure enough, someone asked what these prisons were and what any of this had to do with us. We were told that these prisons were built by privately owned companies who received funding from the government based on the number of inmates. The more inmates, the more money the government would pay these prisons. It was also made clear to us that since these prisons are privately owned, as they become publicly traded, we’d be able to buy shares. Most of us were taken back by this. Again, a couple of people asked what this had to do with us. At this point, my industry colleague who had first opened the meeting took the floor again and answered our questions. He told us that since our employers had become silent investors in this prison business, it was now in their interest to make sure that these prisons remained filled. Our job would be to help make this happen by marketing music which promotes criminal behavior, rap being the music of choice. He assured us that this would be a great situation for us because rap music was becoming an increasingly profitable market for our companies, and as employee, we’d also be able to buy personal stocks in these prisons. Immediately, silence came over the room. You could have heard a pin drop. I remember looking around to make sure I wasn’t dreaming and saw half of the people with dropped jaws. My daze was interrupted when someone shouted, “Is this a f****** joke?” At this point things became chaotic. Two of the men who were part of the “unfamiliar” group grabbed the man who shouted out and attempted to remove him from the house. A few of us, myself included, tried to intervene. One of them pulled out a gun and we all backed off. They separated us from the crowd and all four of us were escorted outside. My industry colleague who had opened the meeting earlier hurried out to meet us and reminded us that we had signed agreement and would suffer the consequences of speaking about this publicly or even with those who attended the meeting. I asked him why he was involved with something this corrupt and he replied that it was bigger than the music business and nothing we’d want to challenge without risking consequences. We all protested and as he walked back into the house I remember word for word the last thing he said, “It’s out of my hands now. Remember you signed an agreement.” He then closed the door behind him. The men rushed us to our cars and actually watched until we drove off.

A million things were going through my mind as I drove away and I eventually decided to pull over and park on a side street in order to collect my thoughts. I replayed everything in my mind repeatedly and it all seemed very surreal to me. I was angry with myself for not having taken a more active role in questioning what had been presented to us. I’d like to believe the shock of it all is what suspended my better nature. After what seemed like an eternity, I was able to calm myself enough to make it home. I didn’t talk or call anyone that night. The next day back at the office, I was visibly out of it but blamed it on being under the weather. No one else in my department had been invited to the meeting and I felt a sense of guilt for not being able to share what I had witnessed. I thought about contacting the 3 others who wear kicked out of the house but I didn’t remember their names and thought that tracking them down would probably bring unwanted attention. I considered speaking out publicly at the risk of losing my job but I realized I’d probably be jeopardizing more than my job and I wasn’t willing to risk anything happening to my family. I thought about those men with guns and wondered who they were? I had been told that this was bigger than the music business and all I could do was let my imagination run free. There were no answers and no one to talk to. I tried to do a little bit of research on private prisons but didn’t uncover anything about the music business’ involvement. However, the information I did find confirmed how dangerous this prison business really was. Days turned into weeks and weeks into months. Eventually, it was as if the meeting had never taken place. It all seemed surreal. I became more reclusive and stopped going to any industry events unless professionally obligated to do so. On two occasions, I found myself attending the same function as my former colleague. Both times, our eyes met but nothing more was exchanged.

As the months passed, rap music had definitely changed direction. I was never a fan of it but even I could tell the difference. Rap acts that talked about politics or harmless fun were quickly fading away as gangster rap started dominating the airwaves. Only a few months had passed since the meeting but I suspect that the ideas presented that day had been successfully implemented. It was as if the order has been given to all major label executives. The music was climbing the charts and most companies when more than happy to capitalize on it. Each one was churning out their very own gangster rap acts on an assembly line. Everyone bought into it, consumers included. Violence and drug use became a central theme in most rap music. I spoke to a few of my peers in the industry to get their opinions on the new trend but was told repeatedly that it was all about supply and demand. Sadly many of them even expressed that the music reinforced their prejudice of minorities.

I officially quit the music business in 1993 but my heart had already left months before. I broke ties with the majority of my peers and removed myself from this thing I had once loved. I took some time off, returned to Europe for a few years, settled out of state, and lived a “quiet” life away from the world of entertainment. As the years passed, I managed to keep my secret, fearful of sharing it with the wrong person but also a little ashamed of not having had the balls to blow the whistle. But as rap got worse, my guilt grew. Fortunately, in the late 90’s, having the internet as a resource which wasn’t at my disposal in the early days made it easier for me to investigate what is now labeled the prison industrial complex. Now that I have a greater understanding of how private prisons operate, things make much more sense than they ever have. I see how the criminalization of rap music played a big part in promoting racial stereotypes and misguided so many impressionable young minds into adopting these glorified criminal behaviors which often lead to incarceration. Twenty years of guilt is a heavy load to carry but the least I can do now is to share my story, hoping that fans of rap music realize how they’ve been used for the past 2 decades. Although I plan on remaining anonymous for obvious reasons, my goal now is to get this information out to as many people as possible. Please help me spread the word. Hopefully, others who attended the meeting back in 1991 will be inspired by this and tell their own stories. Most importantly, if only one life has been touched by my story, I pray it makes the weight of my guilt a little more tolerable.


Thank you.

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71 Responses

  1. the ten percenters promoting slander in the air time

  2. Terrifying.

    Not a shred of evidence to back it, though? Not a single bit of debunking? This is a story that is perfectly fit to capture the imaginations of so many people, and it could easily, easily be total fiction. Never mind how believable or unbelievable it may be (can I ask how is it the author was unaware that NDAs don’t protect illegal activity? The proposal itself is illegal, as are the pulled guns). This doesn’t get “the truth” out, because it never defends its truth (extraordinary claims, etc, etc). All it does is stir the pot.

    Or light the match.

    – Ciro Faienza
  3. How black people cannot see the correlation of the music their children listen to and the behavior they engage in is beyond me.

    – J diallo
  4. The Hip Hop Wars – Tricia Rose.
    Around 1989 record sales had become digitized, whereas before this time it was based on statistics which were biased toward whatever the record companies were promoting. This system highlighted that groups such as NWA, ICE-T etc were outselling other music genres heavily, so the bias turned to promoting the gangster genre. White middle-class kids were 90% of the customer base for this genre.

    The Plot Against Hip Hop – Nelson George.
    Around the time Run DMC “Walk This Way” was released, the Sawyer Group were commissioned to write a report on the nature, marketability and long term potential of Hip Hop culture.

    – Deejay Xelcior
  5. Typical conspiracy theory bollocks, reducing a complex socio-cultural phenomenon down to “some shit happened because a couple of people in a room decided it would happen”.

    Conor mcv
  6. Insane article, and quite possibly a reality..

    G. Tramaine Peoples
  7. Come on son. Ridiculous on its face. Can’t believe you guys posted this.

    – Will
  8. It’s not at all unrealistic. However, the story is narrated like something out of a novel. If he has long separated from the industry, why not drop some names? This anonymous story still makes it easy to find who he is. Who signed papers but were ended up not being in the inside? Its that simple. Bottom line he has to drop some names for it to be investigated a bit more. Otherwise this email was most unbeneficial.

    – Ericka
  9. but still no answer as to why westwood started playing so much bilge.

    – Martyr
  10. I am very upset that you chose to run this obvious fakery. The real-life political and musical dynamics of things like changes in hip-hop and the rise of private prisons are interesting and worthy of study enough without this fake “mysterious men in a room deciding the fate of the world” nonsense. It is ideas like this that keep people apathetic, and running it on your site does nothing but give credence to an obvious con. If something sounds too good to be true, it always is — a la the famed “Willie Lynch” letter, etc. This is nothing but a 1990’s version of that, and I thought that WP was way too smart to give this stuff the time of day.

  11. You can’t blow the whistle by just saying that it makes noise. By not naming names you’re only helping yourself feel better. You’re not helping the situation. If it is true, of course.

    – Spokensound
  12. Amen, Melon.

    – Johann
  13. Bullshit detector is going wild on this one, not least because it’s so reductive and thin on detail.

    I mean, this is a transparent attempt to discredit hip hop and attribute its success to the establishment; specifically, a bunch of white record label execs. I don’t think it deserves a platform. It’s reducing a complex, beautiful art form to fuel for criminal activity – like saying Modern Warfare 2 turns all gamers into killers.

    It has a nasty agenda. If this author really believed in coming clean he’d come forward, end of story.

    – Lame.
  14. If this is indeed a true account of an actual event, it would be incumbent upon Wax Poetics editorial staff to make any and every attempt to expose more specifically who was involved in the meeting. This is not the proper way to bring out this kind of information, journalistically. But, it is a start, if indeed other industry publishers received the same email. Someone needs to follow up with this person to get more details without compromising his identity. Newspapers do this every day with information much more sensitive than this. Two cents.

    – ri5er
  15. Wow, I believe you…. I will help spread the word by reposting it on FB. People, need to know. So sorry that you and all those others were put in such position. God bless.

    – jjr
  16. I applaud you for speaking up now it is people like yourself God touches and anoint your understanding for you to share this experience.

    You have made a difference.

    Joe Louis
  17. read “Deconstructing the Matrix of Hip Hop” by Black Dot!…might clarify things!

    – -head
  18. While this could be, “based on a true story”, it wouldn’t even get a passing grade in a creative writing class.

    Ever sign a NDA for someone you were not employed by, that threatened, “violating the terms would result in job termination”?

    Who gets invited to a “wanna join our conspiracy?” meeting without being vetted/groomed first?
    It’s like Goldfinger explaining his whole evil plan in detail to Bond, but with a NDA instead of a laser.

    The whole thing, right down to the Men In Black, is the kind of movie Lee Atwater would have enjoyed, but even he would have thought it to be over the top.

    I don’t doubt for a moment there are many conspiracies that are true in the music industry, involving greed, government, racism, brainwashing and much more, but even if there is any truth to this one, it is just a good guess from someone who’s only “decision maker” duties, were whether or not to have a drink before noon.

    The excuse of fear for their own safety, is a great cover for the lack of details, isn’t it?

    – "Dollar" Bill
  19. A few things about that story reveal that it is most likely a hoax.

    Firstly, if this person is real, the people with the signed agreements would easily be able to figure out which of the small gathering was a European with a family who moved to the states in the late eighties and then left the industry in 1993. Someone wishing to remain anonymous wouldn’t say so many personal things.

    Secondly, the writing. Paragraphs are way too long, written like a school essay and feature basic mistakes like ‘Company’ instead of ‘Companies’ and ‘taken back’ rather than ‘taken aback’.

    Thirdly, if this really was a massive conspiracy then there wouldn’t have been so much political objection to the emergence of more aggressively themed rap by groups like the PMRC.

    I guess the main point is that anonymous sources don’t tell you their personal history when they’re afraid they may come to harm if discovered.

    Gill Rockatansky
  20. Someone with 20 years to think long and hard about going public with such information would have also spent a long time drafting this letter. There would not be the amount of spelling mistakes in such a considered piece if this were real.

    – skeptic
  21. Highly interesting letter yet things can only be trusted if people declare their identity.

    The people whom own the mentioned ‘Prison Industrial System’ likely own the Communication-Military System meaning they log all digital communication. The Internet was created by the American Military then ‘given’ to a British Computer Scientist to roll-out for public release.

    Due to his work Sir Tim Berners-Lee happens to hold the unique role of being The Queen’s Personal Computer Tutor & he’s teaching her more than just adding Attachments into E-Mail..!!

    Our secret former Record Executive will more than likely already have been located therefore I advise this individual to go public possibly to Alex Jones of quickly or they might find a problem with their Vehicle whilst doing 60mph on the Freeway / Motorway.

    I credit them for at least informing the greater world of this worrying problem as Music not Politics directly impacts Society & supporting the points of the E-Mail… why doesn’t the Music Biz no longer promote Artists like Lennon, Marley or Hendrix?

    If you like the Letter have a check of my take on the Music Industry from April 1st 2012:

    Ohhh… it’s a lot worse than people making money.

    Darren Williams
  22. Whether this story is true or not, listening to rap music, no matter how violent some lyrics may be, is no defense for making poor choices and landing in prison.

    – Kennedy
  23. So this guy goes to a meeting in 1991, signs a paper which says he’d lose his job… then quits the music biz in 1993 and waits til now?

    This story is so full of holes it’s like swiss cheese.

    – Wiser
  24. @ Gill. Your first two points are very well taken. However, the third is flawed. The private sector and the government are not the same thing. They are independent from each other and tend to clash over a number of economic/political issues. I’m sure they may have expected a backlash from the government and/or public.

    With that said, while the story may appear a bit childish, I don’t deny the plausibility. Record label executives are capitalists and the capitalists’ main objective is to maximize profits. Considering all the heat the music industry was already receiving from the FBI (due to NWA) and blaming Tupac for the killing of a police officer, this seems like a rational (yet immoral) business decision on the part of the industry.

    – Adverse101
  25. The fact that you guys this story is pathetic. There are no details at all and it reads like a piece of shit movie script. Enjoy your increased traffic.

    – doja
  26. I was there! Dre handed out the papers, Cube and Snoop had toy guns.


  27. Why doesn’t this guy know how to pluralize nouns?

    – wtf
  28. It may be true but it is ultimately useless and unhelpful. It’s a classic case of the do-gooder missionary’s / white man’s burden scenario in which the impoverished and gullible black (and other) masses readily lap up what is offered by “the man”. It’s only a short step from this to full on censorship, “good news” on TV and lockdown for the rest of us who “can’t tell the difference between fact and fiction”. Rap is far from being the first or unique to promote violence – it is the daily fodder of American society as explained so eloquently by Zappa in his opposition to Gore years before, from the years of oppression of black people by police (Rodney King was the tip of the iceberg that could not be hidden), America’s foreign war adventures and self-sponsored banana republic bashing (notably the Iraq wars), on to the chest-thumping action hero movies etc.
    P.S. You should get Cool C to help you out, I’m sure he can’t wait.

    – Fat Daddy
  29. The DATE of the meeting (1991) and the idea of a confidentiality document at such a meeting lets you know that ANY comment is simply about the color of the poop in the crapper. Total BS article. If you can actually make it through the rest (I stopped not long after the confidentiality agreement part) I hope you enjoyed the BS slippery stinky ride. -hint- by 1991, “gangsta rap” was being bought by the MILLIONS by suburban WHITE kids so this article wants you to believe the target was white kids? LOL.. yeah, right.

  30. Paraphrasing one of my buddies, I think that somebody wrote this because they think that something like this really happened, and they want to get the word out.

    – Joe
  31. 20 years laters?!… You feel guilty 20 years later?

    – Czar
  32. i was a music biz exec for 25 years, until 1996. i’ve never heard of anything remotely like this ever happening. nothing about it rings true to me.

    – dan
  33. the truth is stranger than fiction but this email is just strange. will we ever find out the truth about who killed hip hop ?

    – udontnome
  34. are you kidding me with this shit? My summary of this post

    Something happened. But i didn’t see it happen. But then I saw nothing because something bigger happened.

    – Baisley
  35. Yeah, I guess this is why Time Warner caved in to Govt & media pressure pretty much immediately over that whole Cop Killer business about a year after this meeting is supposed to have taken place. Some conspiracy.

    This bullshit isn’t even worth the time it took to read it, and anyone taking it even remotely seriously belongs in a rubber room. Yet more proof that the internet is the world’s biggest idiot magnet.

    – Agnes Day
  36. Interesting read none the less. Whether real or fabricated its not far fetch.

    Anyone remember John Todd?
    His claim (back in the 70’s I believe) seems outlandish but the events after this speech got him a life of (imo) events to discredit him. Later he would die in the looney bin.

    Or how about the HipHop Police (not the official name lol)but a secret unit that keeps tabs on artists for “drug relations” <—(yeah right, I thought that was the D.E.A.' job)
    ( I tried to find the actual documentary about them that aired on B.E.T. but cant find it, any help?)

    On a side note, why is everyone's main concern here is buddies grammar? Because his grammar isn't the greatest, means most likely the claim is false? C'mon people, you know Bush couldn't even write this 'well' and we still believed him.

    – Gawd

    I just came across this and thought it can paint more of the rap industry lifestyle the masses dont see, from the eyes of artists themselves!

    – Gawd
  38. This may not be a true story but it is true that these prison running corporations are traded on the stock market and they are for profit corporations and they do get paid by the government(not sure if it is state or federal)for each inmate and you can bet they want to keep them full. Our current prison system does little or no rehabbing of inmates.

    – CP
  39. what a lot of you folk fail to realize is even if this story is not exactly what happened, the truth of the matter is it still would serve as an excellent piece of fiction based upon what has happened in real life. there is a lot in the realm of hip hop that has changed since its more humble beginnings, the most notable current issue being the infusion of such electro-fusion bullshit dance music. but sticking to what this story says in particular, it is no secret the prison industrial complex is fed mostly by young black and hispanic males. the story is not written in the most praiseworthy manner but who the fuck are you to dispute what has happened at a meeting and within a person you have no knowledge of? i feel like this story rests on the verge of reality, yet it contains a few hyperbolic clams. nevertheless, there is always the possibility that “truth is stranger than fiction” or the reality of the situation is greater than way we may have originally imagined is continuos throughout the world. It s still out there, and most assuredly receives its fuel from many mainstream officers in the music industry.

  40. Modern day “Willie Lynch” papers/letters

    Imani Lateef
  41. This story could hold some sort of truth; I for one do not find it implausible or far-fetched at all. It could have been made up yet it might reveal something along the lines of what did occur (as is often the case with the fictions and mythologies we encounter in our culture!)

    Just as weak minds cannot connect the dots in these kinds of scenarios in all aspects of life, they see a disparate, chaotic soup of disconnected events that play off each other. Yet if you really do the research and let your gut be your guide and not (only) your feeble, reductionist ‘rational intellect’, you will start to see how much guidance and manipulation most aspects of culture actually have had. This article also speaks to the weak minds of impressionable youth more than anything, and the complete lack of understanding what personal sovereignty really means. Minds filled with programming are bound to adopt more of it! It ain’t rocket science. Even if this meeting never occurred, I have no doubt violent hip hop would only have increased in popularity.

    That does not discount the sheer effect of poverty and strife, which I completely understand is a factor in influencing crime. It still comes down to personal responsibility in the end.

    – Kdawg
  42. I believe the author of this open letter.

    Now before any of you emo crazies get your panties in a bunch, please allow me to express my position on the matter.

    As a long term Record Producer and Radio Mix Show DJ with a career that spans 25 years in this business, I’ve witnessed the questionable shift that the author of this open letter brings to light and his story makes absolute perfect sense to me.

    Do I agree that it sounds fantastic? Yes but that does not mean it’s bullshit. It appears to me that this man or woman lived with a certain fear and guilt and needed to purge his or her conscious for something he or she feels partially responsible for.

    In the early 90’s I found myself visiting the major labels at least twice a week. One day would be set aside to meet with A&R executives about production and remix projects and the other day would be to meet with the labels radio promotions people to pick up my weekly records, DATs and whatever promotional item such as T-shirts, posters, Flats, Stickers and the such which back then ironically was called swag (Now it’s a slang word that means something else).

    Anyway, I do recall a point where all the sudden all the A&R people I knew in the major label system were asking my then production partners and I to bring them gangster rap artists while the indie labels just wanted us to bring them good music.

    It was weird how all these competing labels from what was then 6 major record companies took this sudden simultaneous shift because there was only two or three successful artists doing that kind of music at the time and positive acts like Kid ‘N’ Play, De La Soul, LL Cool J, Public Enemy, Boogie Down Productions and Salt ‘N’ Pepa were far more popular than a few few hit making gangster acts like NWA, Ice T and the Ghetto Boys.

    It made no sense to us, but this is what the majors were offering the bigger budgets for. Another thing that raised our eyebrows back then was the unusual manner in how these labels were all competing for the same sub-genre.

    Most labels back then looked for what they believed would work best for radio because radio is what sold records back then, the clubs back then was a underground thing and not everyone could get into the club, but everyone could isten to the radio so songs by gangster artists using what was then considered expletive filled language while advocating or glorifying murder, misogyny, drug usage and dropping out of school to commit crimes did not make sense to us.

    I personally could not envision my station’s MD (Music Director) or PD (Program Director) approving such records for airplay. Now to NWA’s credit they did go gold without airplay, so the collective conclusion among my then production partners and I was the majors were trying to tap into what was then the underground market. We obviously was wrong because now the positive hip hop music is the underground while the negative music of today is the pop market.

    In those days I was the DJ for H2O (1988 -1995) which was a weekly radio mix show on New York’s Live 105.9 WNWK which was a community radio station that actually had more wattage than 107.5 WBLS and 98.7 WRKS then known as Kiss FM. I do recall that in 1991 the major labels started increasing their service of records by gangster artists from the West Coast and more tough guy East Coast artists.

    The more noticeable thing about these records was they were all cleaned for airplay, meaning they had a distinct strategic reversed tape or vocal mute edit.

    The reverse tape clean was that backwards sweep you’d hear when a rapper said something offensive and most of these were sloppy and they often threw the mix off. The muted vocal was simply where the music will keep going while the offensive word was dropped out without missing a beat, but they were harder to do even with SSL, Upton or Neve automation.

    The major labels push for gangster rap on the radio and music video channels was odd to many of us New York based mix show DJs who were members of an organization known as the Hip Hop Radio Commission which was lead by WNYU’s Martin Moore who was also an A&R Manager at Epic Records, DJ Mecca from WNWK who worked College Radio Promotions at Bill Stepheny’s Step Sun Records and Rob Love who worked College Radio Promotions for Profile records.

    There was over 30 Mix show DJs and hosts who were apart of this group and we met once a month to discuss whatever issues we were having with the major labels because many of us were regulated to either College or Community radio stations. Major radio stations like Kiss FM and WBLS had Red Alert, Chuck Chillout and Mr. Magic and Marley Marl doing Friday & Saturday nights during prime-time hours and our shows were sporadic. For instance my mix show H2O was on every Thursday night from Midnight to 5 AM. Our competition down the dial was Stretch Armstrong & Bobbito who were both A&R people in Def Jam and had sponsorship with Nike so they could afford to do well designed postcard flyers and stickers and have them inserted in the Source Magazine to promote their show.

    In 1995 the Hip Hop Radio commission changed it’s name to the New York Hip Hop Commission and held a press conference which most of the hip hop and music publications attended as well as the New York Daily News, New York Newsday and New York Post.

    Hot 97 which used to be Hot 103.5 became a serious problem for us. They changed the game in a negative way where the major labels now had a major radio station who was playing rap 24 hours a day, but they were also engaging in unsavory practices that threatened well being of our shows because the labels no longer wanted to sponsor us.

    Hot 97 were taking out full page ads in local newspapers, as well as billboard ads on the streets, subways and buses. It was impossible for our shows to compete with that. We didn’t have multi-million dollar budgets and to make matters worst, Hot 97 played what we mostly considered questionable music, that being gangster rap in very heavy rotation and they played the dirty versions too and were getting away with it.

    As a black man, I don’t like the N-Word and strongly oppose the usage of it, but suddenly Hot 97 played songs using this word over and over again every hour on the hour and those of us in the commission were against this because we know a lot of kids were listening.

    When DJ Doom of Kevin Keith and The Dirty Dozen Show on WNWK was on stage speaking about the gangster rap problem and how the labels were trying to force this music on our shows a certain radio promo guy who then worked at Warner Bros. stood up in audience of that conference and accused us of trying to extort the major labels for money which was far from the truth and next thing you knew the New York Post wrote an article railing the commission as an “Illegal union of DJs who behave in a criminal-like fashion.”

    The commission pretty much got shut down as many of our radio shows were not renewed by our stations for unspecified reasons. Two weeks after that press conference Otto Miller WNWK’s Program Director called me and my host Mercury into his office to tell us that our show will not be scheduled for the next quarter due to low numbers and complaints from contributing listeners. The following week my show won the Gavin Award for “Best Mix Show” and I won a Gavin for best “Mix Show DJ”.

    My music production life was also interrupted, A&R people suddenly were too busy to meet with me and Martin Moore was fired by Epic, Rob Love lost his job at Profile. I’ve always felt all of these things had to do with our attending and participating the press conference and something much bigger than us was at play, so for me to read this open letter confirms my main suspicion that there was in fact a conspiracy to control the music on the airwaves but I never ever imagined the private prisons which makes total sense to me now that my eyes are open to it.

    i know this was kinda long, but this is the only way I could explain why I believe the author.

    Pete Marriott
  43. I consider myself more of a “revisionist historian” than a “conspiracy theorist” but read the article non the less. Having lived through and participated in the “Golden Age” of Hip-Hop (my first concert was Grandmaster Melle Mel & the Furious Five in ’84/85), the article did bring up a question that I’ve entertained over the years:- “How and why did Hip-Hop turn from a positive outlet, and rap a real-life social commentary of condition’s within America’s Afro-American inner cities (prior to ’91-92), to the complete reversal of such and massive exploitation of the Black Community, perpetuating instead negative stereo types (post ’92 to present) of the black male usually by entities outside the said community?” Who prospered, who benefitted and why? Without doubt the Prison Industrial Complex has profitted tremendously from the slack jawed bravado of Gangsta/hustler/pimp/player/thug rap pushed on records, radio, cd’s and videos for the last 2 decades, (brainwashing youth worldwide) that toting guns, selling drugs and the celebration of such behavior is acceptable and American as apple pie.
    The question goes a lot deeper however and for a more factual read on the destruction of Black livelihood and communities in the United States I highly recommend Gary Webb’s excellent “Dark Alliance” which catalogues the rise and fall of the real “Rick Ross” from the grimey streets of L.A to the penthouse’s of Beverly Hills. Unlike the article above, Mr. Webb names names and backs up his accusations with a plethora of extremely thorough research. Unfortunately after throwing egg all over the proverbial face’s of the L.A.P.D, the L.A Time’s, the C.I.A and the Reagan/Bush Presidency (and while writing his follow up book), Mr. Webb showed up dead in a mysterious “suicide.”
    Webb traced conspiracy to import crack/rock cocaine into the black ghetto’s of L.A all the way to the desk of the Oval Office and in particular to George Bush Senior. ( Ex-D.E.A officer Celerino Castillo came to the same conclusion as Webb in his excellent book “Powder Burns.” A great read it will definitely pull back the curtain of fabricated reality and is a great companion to go along with Webb’s “Dark Alliance.” After reading those two i’m sure the wax poetic article will seem like a piece of fluff. For those who don’t believe that meetings happen in back rooms to steer the course of our collective reality it’s time to WAKE THE FUCK UP.
    Check out the excellent BBC documentary “The Century of Self” or research Tavistock Institute, RAND Corp, Royal Institute of International Affairs @ Chatham House to see how our reality is planned and shaped. Conspiracies…If only!

    – Big Sceptic
  44. Conspiracy?

    – Big Sceptic
  45. At the beginning of this article, I thought it was going somewhere. It went nowhere.

    None of this story means much of anything, and if the author of this letter is trying to suggest that the premise of these shady meetings has had that much of an effect on decades of nationwide law-breaking, then that’s a little too narrow-minded. This is a complicated issue, and there are far too many factors at play.

    – ILLKID
  46. Crime rates have plummeted over the last 20 years, so Illuminati FAIL.

    – Yesman
  47. Shame on you, Wax Po, for publishing this. And even further shame on you for headlining this letter with the classic PE cover art. I’ve been a reader since issue 1, and this is the first time I can say you guys really did something stupid by publishing this and presenting it in this way.

    Whether the story is true or not, this guy’s perspective is wacked out in the first place. He has the same old European, borderline-racist view of minority communities in America that I’ve heard far too many times. He is basically saying, “this kind of music directly causes this kind of behavior, and I feel guilty for the fact that I could have helped put a stop to it.”

    Get a clue, Sven Tolaafson. It’s not that simple. Ongoing histories of Socio-economic issues and conditions within all types of communities are much too complex to be broken down like that. This writer’s opinion is straight bigotry. And although you guys at Wax Po can claim to neither support or deny this guy’s story/opinions, the fact that you printed it with an alarmist headline and big picture of PE makes you guys look like complete idiots, and it goes against everything you have always claimed to stand for as a respectable publication. Negro, please…

    – Huh?
  48. The New Jim Crow:Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

  49. Slavery’s Back N Effect by Sister SoulJah

    Please NOTE the date of this track’s release as well as Public Enemy’s Fear of a Black Planet. The powers that be weren’t having it. Also ask O’Shea Jackson why he left N.W.A. Please note the year of his departure. Did he know what was coming?

    No Vaseline. We now see who’s phucked.

    1991 Prophetess
  50. I see NWA’s name cropping up, as is to be expected given the topic. So let’s see how good everyone’s memory is – who remembers what the two biggest rap albums were in 1989? Not necessarily the ones that sold the most, but the ones that had the greatest impact culturally and critically, back when things like cultural and critical impact were still worth a damn. Personally, I would say Straight Outta Compton and 3 Feet High And Rising. Some of you may dispute that, but I feel it’s a solid call and I’ll stand behind it. OK, now which of those two albums sold the most? Let me give you a clue – one of them took fifteen years to go platinum, the other one is Straight Outta Compton. My point is this; although it took a while for the industry to properly get a handle on rap music, by 1992 it was simply doing what it always does. It was going with what was selling, it was promoting what was selling, it was signing what was selling – although ostensibly conscious acts like Arrested Development, who were also selling at that time, were widely dismissed by critics and audiences alike for supposedly putting out weak pop shit, so who’s to say that what the industry was pushing wasn’t actually what the people wanted after all? But I digress. An important part of the reason Tha Bizniss was throwing its muscle behind hardcore/street/reality/gangsta rap (however you want to define it) was because white kids were buying it. You go past a million, two million sales, and you’re no longer selling to just a black audience, and that was certainly the case in the late 80s/early 90s when rap wasn’t at anything like the same commercial level it’s at now. And the fact is, white audiences will eat that dangerous, edgy outlaw bullshit right up, no matter what kind of costume it comes in, whether it’s Johnny Cash or Eazy-E.

    What some of you see as a conspiracy is no more than free-market capitalism in action; an industry responding to changes in market tastes by feeding the demand created by those changes and, eventually, shaping the market to keep their profits as high as possible. So many of these industry tales, whether they’re talking about hip-hop or things like American Idol, seem to presuppose that it’s possible to sell people shit that they don’t actually want or even like. It isn’t, at least not for long enough that it’d actually matter or make a difference. The public really aren’t that stupid. Sure, they’ll buy what’s put in front of them up to a point, but only if they like it and only while they like it. The music business is littered with flops who were launched on a wave of hype, only to go nowhere. I don’t care what anyone says, you cannot force people to like what you want them to like, any more than a shadowy cabal of industry execs can sit round a desk like the music business equivalent of the Bilderberg Group and say to one another, “We are going to force gangsta rap upon the young people of America, criminalizing hundreds of thousands of young black men whilst increasing our own profits as well as those of the corporations who own the correctional facilities where these men will end up. We will do these things and we will succeed because we can shape the will of the masses in whichever way we desire”. If you genuinely believe that, then you are mad. Got that? Mad. Insane. Crazy. Nuts. You’re the reason the internet is a scary place.

    – Agnes Day
  51. Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media by Chomsky, Noam & Herman, Edward

    MediaMaking: Mass Media in a Popular Culture by Larry Grossberg, Ellen A. Wartella, D. Charles Whitney, and J. Macgregor Wise

    Huey Freeman
  52. AS-SALAAM-ALAIKUM! Once a coward ;always a coward.The anonymous person should meet with key Black leaders and Rappers to plan a press conference and name every body at the meeting and tell the address of where the meeting was held.Whether real or not Tupac, Biggie and others are dead. Gangsta rap was used as a tool to divide West Coast from East Coast leading to violence and death and prison time.Our women are degraded,sexual activity is explicit lyrically and on stage,materialism is promoted and You don’t hear Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Huey Newton,Khalid Abdul Muhammad or Minister Farrakhan in the background of Rap anymore.If the anonymous letter ain’t real what I just said is.Who’s thinking caused the new direction of Rap to occur? “Men Make Things Happen”

    – Abdullah Muhammad
  53. The White Supremacist’s Guide To Hip Hop History

    – joselitus_maximus
  54. “What some of you see as a conspiracy is no more than free-market capitalism in action…” and therein lies the problem; free-market capitalism. Believe it or not, there are many people who are recognizing free-market capitalism to be a sick, insane, mad, nutty, and sociopathic system.

    As presented succinctly in the following essay:

    ‘Just Business’: Capitalism is an Anti-Social Disease

    Moreover, here’s another take on the concept from Dr. Gabor Maté:

    Lastly, Martin Luther King, Jr. had this to say:

  55. This is the truth, I seen it happen in my neighborhood in East Side San Jo. Everyone wanted to be a gangster, a thug. In my hood, being institutionalized is nothing new. Prison culture is deep and is traced back to generations. But when that gangster shit got big, it just made things worse. It poisoned the minds of young Chicanos who now look up to rap stars instead of the veteranos. The O/G’s are treated like hasbeens and there is no sense of respect for elders, women and children. The “Fuck abitch, fuck a nigga and fuck the nigga that came before me” attitude has completely distorted our young Raza’s self pride and values. In the meantime, the many systems of oppressions make billions and figured out the perfect plan to capitalize from the oppression and incarceration of people of color. I can only pray that more individuals leak out further evidence.
    Stay Up – Stay Proud – Stay Trucha!

    The Homeboy Mad
  56. The Los Angeles 1992 Uprising/Rebellion: Gangsta rap was prescient

    “Toddy Tee and N.W.A were a ready-made soundtrack in April 1992. Ice Cube’s and Dr. Dre’s albums that year explained the feelings in South L.A. neighborhoods. Snoop Dogg, Tupac Shakur and more followed.”,0,515224.story

    The Shaw
  57. “You are mistaken if you believe that the promotion and exaltation of whiteness in all forms of media and the marginalization and stereotyping of people of color–especially blacks–isn’t intentional. Because it IS.”

  58. Not that we should have to, but to answer/respond to a couple questions/comments: This is not an article; it is an email we received, and we decided to publish it. This is not journalism; it is a blog post. The title of the post was quoted directly from the email. Again, we presented this simply as a conspiracy theory. And, yes, we appreciate the bit of traffic to our site. And, yes, we understand how using the PE album cover could be seen as a bit of a misappropriation, but, just like posting this email in the first place, we feel our readers are intelligent enough to decipher all of this without the need of us overexplaining everything.

    We asked “John Smith” to come forward and tell his story and give us his real identity, but he respectfully declined.

    Here is his follow-up email, unedited:


    Thank you for contacting me. I cannot disclose my true identity for obvious reasons. I have read some of the comments on various websites, including yours, and I can appreciate everyone’s skepticism. It is indeed a disturbing story.

    I have noticed that many people have criticized my spelling and grammar as well as the general tone of my letter. English isn’t my native language so I may make occasional mistakes. I find it rather unsettling that so many have ridiculed me for this. I did not set out to write a thesis. I believe I have spoken in a manner which everyone can easily understand in order to make this letter accessible to people of all ages and background.

    I intentionally left out details to avoid being targeted such as my nationality but I wasn’t the only European at the meeting so I am not worried about being identified as the sole European.

    Many people have questioned the validity of the confidentiality agreement we were asked to sign. In retrospect, it was naive of me to do so and I would have been better off following those few who refused. Unfortunately, I did sign the agreement, partially out of curiosity but mainly to keep my job. Each company had their own version of the agreement which required their employees to abide by the same rules or risk termination. Had I known the implications of what this meeting was to disclose, I would have walked out and gladly risked my job.

    Since the story has gone public, I’ve come across other people who have knowledge of similar meetings. This I did not know. Many of the questions people have asked, I do not have answers to. I was present at the meeting no more than a couple of hours. I do not know what took place afterward or what lead up to it initially. My letter simply describes what I witnessed at this meeting, my thoughts following these events, and how I’ve been able to somehow connect the dots since.

    I am not an expert in privatized prisons or rap music like so many of your readers may be. What I do know now is from what I’ve researched on the internet. I have come across many artists in the field of rap music who have shared disturbing stories about their experiences in the music industry which helps me to make sense of my personal experience.

    In the past few days, I’ve actually learned a lot from reading everyone’s opinions. There seems to be a sub culture of people who suspect that this type of corruption is rampant in the music industry and beyond. Fans of rap music appear to be aware of a great variety of political cover ups and conspiracy theories, some that were around in my days, others I’ve never heard of until this week.

    I hope my response has clarified a few things. I am not seeking any kind of personal gain from this and will not reveal my identity. I want nothing more than to share my story but under no circumstances will I risk the well being of myself or my family. 20 years may have passed but at my age, the risk isn’t worth it. The truth is, a slight sense of paranoia has me beginning to wonder if sharing my story was a good idea.


    Wax Poetics
  59. I forgive brother Louis Eugene Wolcott and those who conspired to kill… and those killed…all that being said; back in 2005, I was told of BHO by a Chicago insider. I am not a coward. I know the TIME, as do they.

    (Obama was SELECTED)

    The veil is being removed. The scales from the eyes are falling.


  60. Great to see a follow up to this!

    As for ‘John Smith’, I feel that there’s no need for fear from your actions. If you’re not a ‘major player’ or anyone in position of power, you’re no one of importance (no offence). Especially in the age of the internet where any claim isn’t shocking anymore. Which in turn makes it easier to dismiss and forget.

    I do suggest you stop emailing on the topic, especially if you covered everything you experienced. No need to further explain your actions. And hopefully that will lead others to do their own ‘Gonzo’ investigations/reporting on the matter.

    Here’s a link to an in-depth look at the music industry. Whether its truth or only claim I’ll leave that up to you. I tend to look at it as ‘how many times does it take for a coincidence to stop becoming coincidental but rather purposed’.

    – Gawd
  61. whether this is true or not all I do know is that the music business is currupt as hell and satanic as hell screw this evil bullshit what happen to real rap

    – tj
  62. I beleive this guy after reading his response to the people who questioned his truthfulness. I had a few concerns he cleared up and I did some reasearch on private prisons they exist and they are making a ton of money and there was even some curruption involving judges giving someone longer sentence than usuall till they found out all the money that was being made from the inmate staying that extra have to realize he said this happen in 1991 .the record labels may have a different scheme of doin this now or they may be on to somethin else but its hard to deny this kind of curroption never took place.I BELEIVE YOU SIR THESE OTHER PEOPLE ARE DEECEVEID THEY NEED TO DO SOME REASERCH BEFORE DISMISSING THIS.THEY ARE FANS OF RAP SO OFCOURSE THEY DONT WANA BELIEVE THIS.YOU KEEP DOIN WHAT YOU ARE DOIN LET NOBODY STOP YOU ITS GOING TO HELP THE PEOPLE THAT ITS MEANT TO HELP.this aint the first time I heard about CURRUPTION IN THIS INDUSTRY I BEEN AROUND FOR A WHILE!

    – tj
  63. I will say this much you do need to gives some type of evidence to really convince people and put legs on this thing so it can really do what it needs to do. cause just tellin the story with no specifics is only going so far you eventually need to gives us some names people in that room etc all you need is some details and if this is true it would blow the lid in this currupt industry .I dont give a hell If this happened to me I would give hardcore evidence cause people are getting brainwashed… you got to do more than this you need to think of a way you can prove this happened

    – tj
  64. Modern Slave Traders – Private U.S. Prisons


  65. I’m suprised at the reaction’s in these comments. It’s clearly ludicrous premise but if you can withold your obvious scepticsm for a sec, this was an impressively imaginative social commentary. A delightful read and biting satire. I don’t know how you could read it any otherway, whistleblowing after 20 years over such a major scandle would not be the fortunate scoop of an obscure blog like this, that’s riduclous. But it is the place for an amusing article lamenting music industry decision’s and it’s profit from the subjegation of whole swathes of poor black america. Even I can tell this I’m middle-class white kid in the UK who mainly listens to music with guitars in it :p You commenters need to chill out and read between the lines me thinks x

    – Max
  66. WOW!!! That is a very serious story and a lot of heart to blow the whistle, I would definitely love to share some info with u on this subject and also get a review on some more Positive Hip Hop. Thank U Bro Peace!!!

    Ozer Yehudah
  67. thing that make u say Hummmm

    – denise
  68. I don’t know this guy and this is the first I’ve heard of this specific story but I know it’s true because the music bizness has always operated by conspiracy(from the beginning)this same thing happened in the 60’s with the British invasion and L.A music scene.The music bizness promoted hedonistic bohemians like Dylan,The Beatles,Stones,Byrds etc.Which in turn created the subculture known as Hippies.Most of those original hippies regret what they did as youths and a large percentage became born again christians(another conspiracy)Bohemians are a tiny percentage of any generation.The majority of said generation cannot handle such a lifestyle and end up on the wrecking heap.IT”S ALL BY FUCKING DESIGHN.Any of you on this thread who think this is bullshit are fucking morons.

    – Robert John
  69. How could you not be surprised? Quit being a slave to the machine and ask questions. Think for once. Society has trained us to be submissive cowards. ijs.

    – Dawn
  70. I know, too, & wish I didn’t know as much as I do…

    – Rootsy
  71. “Not for nothin’, but…”
    -Remy Ma

    Charles Hamilton

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