Tony MF Rock (Anthony Durham) and contemporary MC Shy D pioneered Atlanta hip-hop in the ’80s via releases on Luther Campbell’s Luke Skyyywalker Records. Durham went on to play bass for the Atlanta rap-rock group El Pus and collaborate with Anthony David.
In this “open letter,” Tony Rock discusses the response of black-owned radio stations to the pay to play Performance Rights Act.
Lately black radio has been on a jihad, so to speak against bill HR 848. They’re distorting it as a bill to “get rid of black radio”, and sadly, most of their audience will not take to time to research it and find out what it actually is. Black radio, knowing that they have done the black community a disservice for the most part, has decided to fall back on the “brotherhood” crutch. Unfortunately, and predictably, black radio has made HR 848 an “us (black) vs. them (white)” issue, even going as far as to tell their listeners to call Senators and Congressmen and threaten their seats. I promise you, those that make those calls, will make damned fools out of themselves, but I digress. In a nutshell, HR 848 is simply a bill that will allow artists that perform on the records that are being played, to receive a royalty payment.
So, since people like Warren Ballentine, Michael Baisden, and others in black radio have decided to go with this “bill to get rid of black radio” nonsense, let’s play along, shall we? Black radio is “reaching out” to the same community that they have done a disservice to over the past 2 decades for help. They want us to save them. Why should we? Black radio, in its essence, was a medium to truly serve the community. Nowadays, not so much. You want us to save something that constantly bombards our children with music that denigrates women and living lawfully? Black radio was a place where talented local artists could be heard. The only local artists that get played in Atlanta are the ones who are making crap. It’s like the artists are trying to outdumb each other. Atlanta was the VERY last market to play India.Arie, and she’s from here, but unfortunately for her, her music was positive. There’s no room for that on black radio here in Atlanta!! Black radio in Atlanta doesn’t support local artists, unless they’re making music that makes the community look bad, or if they’ve gone elsewhere to achieve notoriety first.
Black radio used to be a place where you can learn something about your culture. Black people complain that they gave us the shortest month to celebrate Black History Month, and sadly, that’s a whole lot more than we get from black radio! Black radio will make you jump through hoops if you wanted to promote an event that helps the community, but they’ll gladly run promos 6 times a day for the “Miss Biggest Booty” contest at the local club next weekend. A few years ago, Hot 107.9 in Atlanta was doing a call in show teaching teens the correct way to have anal sex. Is that what you call “giving back to the community”? Really?! That’s what you want us to save?! You want us to save something that constantly markets malt liquor, predatory payday loans, unhealthy food, rent to own scams, and Pars Cars to us? You really think that crap is worth saving? When I was an artist back in the 80’s, my label turned to black radio for airplay, and they gave us alot of support…………$2500.00, a hooker, and 2 bags of cocaine later, and this happened on more than one occasion! Black radio also wants black artists to speak on their behalf. The same black artists that they were shaking down for payola, which still goes on today, but only now they force them to perform for free at the stations’ “Birthday Bash” concerts.
Do you honestly think, deep down inside that you deserve saving? There are some people willing to help you, and there are others that are willing to just let you wither away. To the ones that want to help, you need to ask black radio: What are you willing to do for the community, instead of to the community? — Tony MF Rock