U2’s Bono nailed the sentiment. In over 20 years of listening to holy hip hop (First purchase: 1986 / Stephen Wiley’s “Bible Break” single – on tape!), I have yet to run across The Perfect Christian Rap Album.
On December 17th, 1991, Judge Kevin Thomas of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York issued an injunction against Warner Bros. Records that changed the direction of Hip Hop music forever. The case was, of course, over sampling and copyright infringement. Biz Markie, a signed artist of Warner Bros. Records (and inventor of the slang “Oh, Snap!”) used a sample from the song “Alone Again (Naturally)” by singer-songwriter Gilbert O’Sullivan. The case set a precedent for the music industry and created a wave of legal woes still felt by Hip Hop producers to this day. It was ruled that 100% of all samples must be cleared first by the original copyright owners before any third party use.
Some of us reading this have visited someone behind bars before. Some of us may have even spent some time there ourselves. But all of us can at least somewhat imagine what it would be like as we’ve seen movies, TV shows, and even heard first hand descriptions about what it’s like on the inside. Getting locked up can be a badge of honor in the street. It’s often given props in hip-hop music and culture. But even still we all know it’s not good. It’s not a place we’d like to go for any amount of time. It’s ugly.