Local Music News

Bands will have the option of whether or not to allow their performances to be Webcast. But knowing how the Web can reach so many different corners of the globe (and so many various record label exec's offices), an unsigned band would be silly not to sign the release form.

Other Web sites, such as, based out of Austin, out of Dallas and, also out of Austin, bring music and some video to on-line folk. But none have such a local, audio-only appeal as WNBO. "These artists are ahead of the competition," says Casey Monahan of the Texas Music Office. "They're doing a lot toward controlling their image and customer access to their work."

As for security, Phenix of WNBO says it would take more time than it's worth for somebody to copy what they download from and distribute it to others for a fee.

MTV: Making Teens Vapid

This week local bookstores are packed with more of MTV's newest creations (don't laugh): books. Like a lot of independent record companies nowadays, which would publish your little sister's e-mails if packaged correctly, the younger-generation TV station is pushing its paperbacks on oppressed retailers in another shameless attempt to take over the world. (There are MTV films, too, need you be reminded.) And I say "oppressed retailers" because over-the-counter booksellers are facing lotsa competition from on-line retailers, and anything to up revenue by a percentage point is a plus. And anything with "MTV" on it is something that's bound to sell -- especially to brainless youth sipping Starbucks coffee and pretending to understand Faulkner; that demographic to which MTV so unabashedly prostrates.

Though local retailers refuse to comment on how well certain titles are selling (for local competition reasons) and won't comment on the MTV thingies, the folks who brought us these minibooks can. Of course. They say their music "books" are doing quite well. Thank you very much.

As a partnership between MTV and Simon & Schuster's Pocket Books, both Viacom companies, MTV Books has been publishing "books" since The Real World began dominating the popular consciousness a half-dozen years ago. The publishing shack now releases about a dozen titles per year, including the music-oriented books, which are the young-adult equivalents of pop-up books. Heavy on photos, light on content.

MTV Books' first waste of pulp was something about the British rock band Bush. Its second, which has just hit local bookshelves, is about hip-hop. It's called Move the Crowd: Voices and Faces of the Hip-Hop Nation, which was compiled -- and I use that word deliberately since there is no text other than the ten-page introduction -- by Gregor and Dimitri Ehrlich. Brothas to the nth degree. G is a copy director at BMG direct. D is a "journalist" who suspiciously resembles an academic by virtue of what he has had published. But about the introduction: The authors cite -- as does every other lazy journalist on the face of the planet -- "Rapper's Delight," by the Sugar Hill Gang, as the first rap song to affect the collective American consciousness. This is partly true. Yes, "Rapper's Delight" made it from a New York City radio station, which played the song as a joke, to California in record time, but the tune caught the attention of only urbanites. Suburbanites (black, white, brown or yellow), most white people and residents of secondary-market cities weren't exposed to rap until about five years later when Run-D.M.C. hit the air- and videowaves. Pointing to one song as a watershed moment is just the M.O. for critics, though. We'll excuse the Brothers Ehrlich this one.

But what's inexcusable is how the authors mess with the hip-hop argot. Like when the duo talk about how a friend of theirs used to "drop straight to the floor and undulate like an eel," they refer to this dance move as "the worm." Now, I was never a very good break-dancer, but at least I knew when someone was doing "the centipede." I'd never heard of "the worm." "The snake," maybe, but "the worm"!

The rest of the book is reflective of our "sound bite" culture, which MTV (and its insipid prostitute-in-arms, Rolling Stone) has created for us. There are full-page, black-and-white photos on about every other page of hip-hop/rap superstars of yesterday and today and quotes from everyone from Chuck D. to Lord Jamar, Brand Nubian.

Of the quotes, check out Jamar's. On page 121, he says: "The darker your skin is, the stronger you areŠ.And whether they tell you or not, melanin has to do with mentalityŠ.The darker you are, the better you areŠ." First, this makes Jamar look like an idiot. Second, it's not even an opinion and really has nothing to do with hip-hop culture (except that the source himself has something to do with it). All it is is passing off egomaniacal mumbo-jumbo as truth. Did this book's authors ever consider the impact this would have on the book's target audience, which an MTV rep tells me is 13- to 30-year-olds? Did these two authors ever think about how many brain-dead Starbucks-drinking teens will read what Jamar says and think it's fact?

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