Does the music business need a David Stern?
The National Basketball Assn. commissioner took swift and strict action against the players involved in the recent brawl with fans in Detroit. His message in suspending Indiana Pacer star Ron Artest -- the most flagrant offender -- for the rest of the season at a cost to Artest of nearly $5 million in lost salary, was a clear one of zero tolerance for such behavior.
Similarly, officials at the University of South Carolina and Clemson University sent a strong message in the wake of the ugly fight that broke out between players during a football game last week by saying that both would forego any chance of playing in postseason bowl games. It also hurt the schools, which could have earned as much as $1 million each.
No such action has been discussed publicly in the music world after the other much-replayed violent incident of recent weeks, the confrontation at the Vibe Music Awards in Santa Monica in which rapper Young Buck allegedly stabbed a man who had thrown several punches at producer Dr. Dre.
Young Buck (real name: David Brown) did turn himself in to police and is out on $500,000 bail after being charged with one count of attempted murder and one of assault with a deadly weapon.
But would Interscope Records void his contract if he's found guilty? Would radio stations stop playing his music?
"That's not going to happen," says Davey D., a veteran Bay Area-based hip-hop columnist. "It hasn't happened before, and where do we draw the line?"
He cites as an example rapper Jay-Z's admission of stabbing a man in 1999. He was sentenced to three years' probation in 2001.
"Not one entity pulled back on playing his music or showing his video," he says.
E Man, music director at Los Angeles hip-hop radio station KPWR-FM (105.9), notes the initial distancing that happened regarding singer R. Kelly after videotapes surfaced allegedly showing him having sex with underage girls.
"When the R. Kelly situation came about, some radio stations said, 'No, we're never playing him again,' " he says. "But now they are. It's part of the politics of the game."
Interscope this year released an album by rapper Shyne, who is serving a 10-year prison sentence for a shooting incident.
"Record labels will take it if the music is hot and sells," says E Man. "Radio stations are in a similar situation. If the music is hot and people want to hear it, it will get played."
And, of course, Artest is in the music business -- his TruWarier Records label just this past week released an album by R&B trio Allure.
Damien Rice graduates into film
Earlier this year, Irish singer-songwriter Damien Rice and some associates were watching the 1967 movie "The Graduate" and loved the way the film wove songs by Simon & Garfunkel into the story.
"We spoke of how great it would be to work on a movie like this, where the song and movie are very interlaced," he says.
He didn't have to imagine the situation for long. Just a few weeks later Rice got a call from Mike Nichols, the director of "The Graduate," about that very thing. Nichols was working on "Closer," a romance starring Julia Roberts and Jude Law, and wanted to use Rice's music. And there was a parallel to the past movie on his end as well.
"It happened exactly the same way as when someone sent me a Simon & Garfunkel album while I was doing 'The Graduate,' " Nichols says. "A friend sent me Damien's CD and I started playing it at home and after the third day I said, 'Listen to this! This is the opening song for my picture.' "
In fact, the song "The Blower's Daughter," taken from Rice's 2003 album "O," wound up being not just the opening song (played in its entirety at the movie's start) but also the closing song. And Rice was also asked to record several instrumental cues to be used elsewhere in the film. Nichols notes that it's not exactly equivalent to how he used Simon & Garfunkel songs throughout in "The Graduate" and that "The Blower's Daughter" will not become an "anthem for adultery" as "Mrs. Robinson" was in the earlier movie. But Rice is thoroughly satisfied with the way it turned out.
"It's quite different from 'The Graduate,' as the story and song are quite different," he says. "But Mike is Mike, and he's made it feel like this was all meant to be."
Taking the music to the mashes
The saga of DJ Danger Mouse's "Grey Album" continues. The underground (and unauthorized) phenomenon that mashed songs from the Beatles' so-called White Album with tracks from Jay-Z's "Black Album" has now spawned a video for the song "Encore," built on Jay-Z's rap of that title but with music sampled from the Fab Four's "Glass Onion."
The clip is itself a visual mash-up, using a scene from the movie "A Hard Day's Night" of the Beatles performing in a TV studio as the basis. Edited to the beat of the song, it sees the rapper turning up as a guest, while Ringo Starr's drum set morphs into a deejay's stand and John Lennon puts down his guitar and appears to spin on his head, break-dance style, with mini-skirted dancers bopping alongside.
Clearly made by an experienced professional -- the effects and alterations are seamless -- the video was done without the knowledge of Danger Mouse, says his manager, Jeff Antebi. The video simply appeared recently on a website created specifically for it, but after just 24 hours the site was deactivated. Investigation showed the site had been registered to Antoine Tinguely, an Emmy Award-winning video designer. Attempts to contact him were unsuccessful.