DJ Drama Gets Raided By The Feds

Jan 17th, 2007 // 14 Comments

djdrama.jpgLast night the Atlanta-based mixtape crafter DJ Drama, who has worked with artists like Young Jeezy and T.I., was arrested after the RIAA and a SWAT team raided his studio, confiscating more than 50,000 CDs, recording equipment, and his car. Nah Right‘s eskay offers his take on the situation:

Atlanta’s Fox 5 reports that a police SWAT team in conjunction with RIAA anti-piracy agents raided DJ Drama’s Gangsta Grillz recording studio earlier today and arrested both he and fellow Aphilliate Don Cannon on piracy charges. The ramifications of something like this are potentially pretty huge for high profile mixtape DJ’s. The RIAA just disgusts me to the point where I don’t want to ever pay for a retail cd again in my life.

They didn’t seem to mind a year ago when Drama was promoting T.I. and pushing his album to Gold status in a week. And check out the report below and notice how even though the cops didn’t find any illegal drugs or weapons, they were sure to mention how the discovery of such contraband is typical during these raids on “counterfeiters.” In the video they are clearly confiscating boxes of Gangsta Grillz mixtapes, yet they act like these guys were in there burning copies of retail albums.

The Fox report was pretty clueless, lumping mix tapes in as “illegal CDs,” and the RIAA rep interviewed seemed to be more than happy to assist in that conflation, referring only to the “900% profits” that resulted from the albums’ manufacture. Reports say that DJ Drama and Cannon were charged with racketeering and that they’ll be in court this morning, and the Gangsta Grillz site now only advertises an album that DJ Drama is putting out in conjunction with Atlantic Records. What this raid means for the mixtape industry–which, as Eskay notes, has been key to promoting hip-hop artists’ new records–is uncertain at the moment, although the RIAA rep’s incessant, smug references to “counterfeiting” in the report linked above can’t be seen as a good sign.

DJ Drama and Don Cannon Arrested For Piracy [Nah Right]
Downtown Raid Nets Illegal CDs [My Fox Atlanta]

  1. lucasg

    wow, a SWAT team? that’s tax dollars at work, protecting the interests of record companies.

  2. lucasg

    but maybe it is karmic payback for making something called ‘gangsta grillz.’

  3. Dan Gibson

    A record store I managed was raided for selling some bootlegs we purchased as used, and we got the whole SWAT team treatment as well. The stooges from the RIAA went through every CD in our store, but the majority of the stuff they called “bootlegs” were indie releases from major label artists. The one I remember most clearly was “Hate Your Friends” by the Lemonheads, which was pulled because the RIAA guy hadn’t heard of Taang! Records. I think they pulled the Beck disc on K, as well.

    In this case, I don’t think the RIAA wants this case to go to trial, because I’m sure DJ Drama can name dozens of employees at the majors who gave him tracks for his mixtapes.

  4. shovelingslop

    Are they gonna go after eMusic next? It’s selling a half dozen Drama mixtapes, including T.I.’s, Lil Wayne’s. (And Bubba Sparxxx’s mixtape has major label tracks on it, including Chingy’s “Right Thurr.”) Let’s throw Azerrad in the clink!

  5. joe bananas

    it’s this absolute failure/unwillingness to understand the whole culture of record buying that’s making the majors irrelevant in the first place. It’s sort of unsettling to know that a ‘major sting operation’ can be carried out over a period of months without those involved first getting some kind of handle on what a mixtape is.

  6. xtianrut

    Bonus points for the best RIAA acronym (or de-acronym, or whatever). (*Remember kids, “retarded” was banned on Idolator as of yesterday…)

  7. SupraCute

    Really Ignorant About Audio

  8. GiantPanda

    Rut-row, I’m An Asshole

  9. Bob Loblaw

    Rich Isn’t Adequate, Assholes.
    Rap Is Aggravated Assault.
    Restitution Implies Arrogance, Astigmatism.

  10. Dan Gibson

    Just in case you wanted to let Mr. Kilgo of the RIAA know what you think of the raid, his contact info is available from the State Bar of Georgia website: http://www.gabar.org/directories/member_directory_search/m

  11. Ted Striker

    I’m no lawyer, but I wonder if there’s legitimate grounds for a legal challenge of the piracy law here. They were able to work out a solution over sampling, why not this?

  12. nonplus

    Actaully, one does have to license music for mix CDs so this is totally valid and it’s fine by me.

    As a music writer and publisher, someone can take my music without my permission and put in on a mix cd — i.e., a dj making a cd so s/he can get booked at a club. And that is great! It doesn’t hurt anyone and legally it is considered as “promotional use” like the freebies given to the press and other people in the industry. It’s no different from me, say, using clip art of a Disney birthday card to someone (and contrast with printing up birthday cards and selling them!).

    Now if same DJ starts selling CDs with other people’s music, well, regardless of the level of skill of said DJ, they are indebted to the original artists. Don’t think so? Replace any given song in your favorite mix with something completely different. Hey – it doesn’t feel the same any more.

    Imagine said DJ makes a mix CD of their favorite James Brown songs. That’s fine if they give it away to friends. Now what if they sell it? That’s pretty obviously stealing from the original artist.

    F*k the RIAA – they are out of their minds and i do disagree with ASCAP and BMI siding with them.

    But F*k this guy, too. He is a theif.


    Here’s an article discussing the legality of mixtapes from Creative Commons.
    http://creativecommons.ca/index.php?p=mixtapes


    b.wilks / nonplus / igel music (ascap)

  13. Anonymous

    for under 10 grand in equipment any 1 can burn 3000 copy’s a minute and have them printed with photo quality graphics for 1.50 a cd

    so have 10 grand start a independent record label in your basement or some strip mall or store front and sue the riaa when they raid some music store for selling the cds you have burned for one of your clients

    you have them on slander defamation of character and filling a false police report an d your lawyers might be able to help the music store file a simlar suit all and all thare should be over say million dollars in damages not mention if they come in with swat gear with RAII in bold letters on thare vest and shields you might have em on impersonating a police officer and that is serious felony

    now that is some press i would love to see

  14. Anonymous

    blooper 3000 coppys an hour here is site ware u can buy the equipment

    i do not work for this company or have any intrest in them except to buy from them in the near future

    [www.newenglandcd.com]

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