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POP EYE

July 24, 1994|STEVE HOCHMAN

STICKERY SITUATION: Can a record company release an album and not be responsible for what the artist says? That seems to be what Epic Records is attempting to do with the latest from Compton-based rapper MC Eiht.

In addition to the usual "Parental Advisory" warning, Epic has put a sticker on the album, "We Come Strapped," stating, "The lyrical content contained on this album solely expresses the views of the artist."

The intent is apparently to protect the company from such lawsuits as those that claimed Judas Priest lyrics led to a youth's suicide and a song by rapper Tupac Shakur caused the murder of a police officer. One MC Eiht song, "Take 2 With Me," portrays a Compton drug dealer vowing to kill two policemen who are chasing him.

The disclaimer probably doesn't hold any legal water, says a noted music industry First Amendment attorney.

"Clearly the record company has elected to release the album and presumably will advertise and promote it and is hoping for the highest sales possible," says Stephen Rohde. "They are enjoying the revenues and are responsible."

Rhode notes, though, that no civil or criminal cases have held artists or record companies liable for claims that their lyrics caused deaths.

Eiht shrugs off Epic's move to distance itself from his lyrics. "They're just trying to protect their backs," he says, adding that the company is not slacking off in promoting the album. "It just shows how cowardly some people can be."

Epic Records issued a statement that the wording of the sticker was arrived at jointly by the company and the artist, and that the company supports free speech.

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