A Texas public education trust fund dumped $3.5 million worth of stock in Seagram Co. this week following pressure from a trio of rap music critics who contend that the firm's MCA music division is "peddling filth for profit."
The action comes just one week after rap adversaries sent a barrage of letters to stockholders and the board of directors at Seagram complaining that MCA-affiliated Interscope Records releases albums containing "hyper-violent, hateful and exceedingly vulgar" lyrics, accompanied by "depraved, perverted pictures."
The letters were sent by William J. Bennett, head of the Washington-based conservative think tank Empower America; C. DeLores Tucker, chair of the National Congress of Black Women; and Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.)--the triumvirate of social critics who launched an anti-rap campaign two years ago and pressured Time Warner Inc. to drop Interscope.
Bennett is now demanding that Seagram stop distributing what he regards as offensive music by such top-selling artists as Tupac Shakur and Snoop Doggy Dogg.
In a phone interview Thursday, Bennett said he was pleased that the Texas state Board of Education decided to sell its Seagram stock and hoped that other investors would follow.
"[Seagram Chairman Edgar] Bronfman has broken a promise that his company would not release offensive records, and I guess the only way to get his attention is to grab him by the wallet," Bennett said.
Executives at Seagram and MCA Music declined to comment.
Analysts, however, doubted that Bennett's latest crusade would have much impact on Wall Street.
"If this was a Bible corporation and . . . it bought a record label that released controversial music, that might matter to investors," said Harold Vogel, entertainment analyst at Cowen & Co. "But what we're talking about here is a liquor company. Nobody on Wall Street is paying any attention to this issue."
Seagram stock is up 50 cents to $40.125 this week on the New York Stock Exchange.