Mixtapes, Auditon tapes. Lord Finesse, Mac Miller. James Brown, Michael Jackson & Everyone else! It’s all about Influence… AND $.
After the news of the recent $10 million copyright infringement lawsuit filed this week by hip hop MC Lord Finesse against burgeoning rap star Mac Miller, I thought about a conversation I had with guitarist Keith Jenkins. It however wasn’t about legal business involving music, but influence. Jenkins played the strings for James Brown from the early 90′s until the Godfather of Soul’s passing in 2006. Shortly after Brown’s death, Jenkins and I talked about how what was once old becomes new and popular again, and how the musical greats from the past bear a heavy influence on those who wish to walk their same paths.
Minus the lawsuit, but similar to the situation described in Finesse’s legal claim. Finesse, born Robert Hall, recorded his well-known hit “Hip 2 Da Game” [The Awakening] in 1995. Fifteen years later, Miller recorded his own rendition called “Kool Aid & Frozen Pizza.” According to the lawsuit, after recording, Miller (real name Malcolm McCormick) released it on his mixtape ”K.I.D.S. : Kickin’ Incredibly Dope Shit,” after being signed to Rostrum Records. Finesse says the release is allowing Miller and some of his counterparts to profit from the unauthorized use of his song.
Despite the legal woes that have ensued in Miller’s case, Finesse to Miller is what Brown was to Michael Jackson and still many other living artists today. A MAJOR influence. In our conversation, Jenkins and I talked at length about this. It apparently still speaks true to the development and growth of up and coming artists today regardless of genre; which I feel Finesse’s lawsuit really sheds light upon [as well as the legal side of the music business].
In Brown’s case, Jenkins and I discussed how music would be different if he never decided to sing into a microphone and record. Here’s Jenkins in his own words. “It’s a compounding effect. If James Brown never lived music would not be what it is today. ”There are some people who may not have gone into music if it wasn’t for James Brown.” His case: Michael Jackson. “On his audition tape , he did a James Brown song for Motown when he was a kid. So how would the [musical] world be without Michael Jackson? You have to say without James Brown, Michael Jackson wouldn’t have been what he was. Look at all the people who are influenced by him and Prince.” Think singer Miguel. “Michael Jackson and Prince would have still existed, but it would be very different not as hip. Then if you go back to the 1970′s, when people talk about his influence on rap and music its enormous. Look at all the forgotten bands of the 70′s that were big back then. James Brown was a pioneer of that whole sound. None of those groups would have even existed in the form they did. Funk music wouldn’t have happened without him. He was the inventor of it. We’re talking hundreds and hundreds of groups and songs. Things that even when he didn’t have a hit, he was still apart of what was popular at the time just through his influence.”
So, now-a-days; an audition tape could be compared to a mixtape. As in a way for artists to display their skills and grab the attention of hopefully future fans and of course a record deal. All the while, taking the first steps in building a marketing campaign for their musical platform. While most young artists probably know who James Brown is, they’re more than likely not as familiar with his heavy influence on the music they love. I guess the best way to put it “now-a-days”: Lord Finesse is to Mac Miller what James Brown was to Michael Jackson and hundreds of others. A MAJOR influence, who now happens to be taking him to court.
Source for lawsuit: Courthouse News Service
For more from writer Nicole Allen follow her on Twitter @AllenNicoleM