So if you haven’t heard by now, Where Is Danny? has been pulled from retail as of March 2011. If you click on any links on my website, or this very blog, that direct to online stores for either the album or the “Get Down” single, you will be re-directed to the store’s home page. Or Thailand. I hear prostitution runs rampant there, but I digress.
But the reason why this has happened is not because of sample clearance issues, which I initially suspected (“Yoko Ono” from And I Love H.E.R. faced a similar fate during the first part of 2009 but the case was subsequently dismissed). No, this is the tale of betrayal and cowardice and yada yada yada from a month or so back.
Being a one-man-band is exhausting. It’s demanding. Most times, it’s thankless. But you know what? Deep down, I love not having to depend on others. I love the sensation of having accomplished a project with little to no help. The minute you ask someone for assistance, you’re running the risk of either having your project held up due to their lack of urgency (which will never match yours), or the relinquishing of that dreaded C-word.
No, not couscous.
Credit. Having to share credit can make an unchecked ego cringe. Not being able to claim all of it can cause rifts that may originate from finances, recognition, hell a slew of things I’m sure. But I was never that dude. I’ve gone through my entire career post-The College Kicked-Out fiasco trying to help out anybody, and I mean anybody that respected what I did and could rock with me. If we admired each other’s talents, it was a done deal. Sharing credit was just an inevitable thing. I’m proud to be able to have a song posted online somewhere with the caption “Big Booty Hoes! (produced by ______ )”, because that person was willing to work with me and create some quality music. Credit? Who needs it? People know what the hell I do.
But there’s another C-word that causes just as much trepidation. No, not Columbine. Close though.
Compensation. At the end of the day, money is the name of the game. That cash can cause a weary artist low on motivation to churn out an album year after year. In the context of dealing with others, it can destroy friendships.
You know what’s hilarious? My discography consists of only a handful of songs featuring people outside of my (now empty) camp, yet not a single person (except Naledge, which is some bullshit) asked me for a dime. However, people who at one point were closest to me have always hollered compensation. Isn’t that a scream? Who the fuck is going to charge you money to work with you if they rock with you or respect what you do? Inversely, I never charged anyone for beats or any vocals I may have done because if I like you I don’t give a fuck. Danny Brown e-mails me late 2009 and tells me how much of a fan he is — later going as far to publicly state that he thought I would turn him down — and, being a fan myself, I slid him ten beats for The Hybrid. He used five. Tanya Morgan and I have been mutual fans of each other for years so of course collaborations were bound to happen between me, Von and Don, and the same can definitely be said for my brother and Lessondary spitter Che Grand as well as other artists who got at me when I was unavailable but definitely have love for (Random/MegaRan, Dumhi, Tyler the Creator, Brandun Deshay and even Apathy circa 2007. (My bad bruh! I still got that beat!)
So why in the bloody hell is a longtime friend, someone I actually know and have spent extended amounts of time with, filing phony copyright violation reports on iTunes for Where Is Danny?
I should’ve wisened up when this dude charged me $150 for Charm‘s Where Is Danny? prototype “Lip Flappin’“, but damn I wouldn’t listen. Here I am, finally accepting of the fact that my collective and I would no longer be friends ages ago and this happens? Boy oh boy.
Long story short: me and this dude agree to split duties (and profits) from Where Is Danny? so long as everything is paid for equally. People fall out, the album is slightly retooled and studio expenses are absorbed by me alone. Two months later this dude comes back desperate to be on the project so I oblige. Only this time, he wants to get paid for his beats. I balk, feathers are ruffled, and it’s suggested by me that compensation was initially agreed if and only if costs are split. They weren’t. The project leaks, this guy moves to California, the album collects dust waiting for a resolution, I put it out intending to pay him when I get paid, BOOM, I get served with an injunction with using copyrighted music without permission. Got that?
So after the initial email from iTunes notifying me of the allegations for Where Is Danny?‘s beats, I get a chance to talk to this guy’s representative (of what, I have no idea…maybe it was really his dad) over the phone and explain to him that “co-composer” is not the same as “co-writer”, and that he certainly didn’t write a single thing. Any compensation made to the producer, I explained, needs to be decided between us, man-to-man, whether it’s a split of the sales or a flat fee.
The resulting e-mail? Exhibit A, ladies and gentlemen:
Now I’m thinking to myself “you son of a bitch” but despite all of this, I’m still willing to work with him because if we’ve been reduced to businessmen squabbling over rights, then so be it. But all of this is ultimately becoming a mess and making me very, very irritated so after an epiphany that weekend I retort with the following (exhibit B):
And yes, I really enclosed “Take Me To The Mardi Gras” for snark’s sake. Thank you, Bob James.
Now the true reason for this unnamed person’s (and unknown…if you Google his name 90% of the hits are attached to me, his one-time cash cow) desire to seek compensation originates from a petty fallout in the summer of 2009, documented in this interview. Neither of us were enrolled in high school at the time, yet the nature of this dispute reeks of sophomore-(sophomoric?) year pretentiousness. I can only imagine the tall tales he must tell anyone with a set of ears, which explains the decreasing amount of phone calls I receive these days from so-called mutual friends. Ah well. I’m not the type to advertise shit like this for sympathy like he does, but today I made an exception. Pity me, you fools.
In the end, everything worked itself out: Where Is Danny? is finally being given a full-fledged (albeit digital) release courtesy of Interscope, others have been reduced to producing for Papoose-esque rappers (in 2011, no less) and I’m back to handling all aspects of production by my lonesome. Meh. It’s what I do best. It’s wishful thinking to want long-lasting friendships in this industry but the stark reality is, if you wave a wad of cash in someone’s face — even a former friend — you can kiss those relationships goodbye.
Fuck it. Mo’ money for me, bitches.
Today’s free download, Adventure, comes courtesy of the Patchwork music library. The amount of cheesy 80s synths in this record is about equivalent to the cornballiness of this entire ordeal. Jeebus. Can’t we all just get along? (
BONUS EXHIBITS FOR THE LOLZ: For those of you who ate up that bullshit backstory for the “
rejects” “outtakes” album? Nigga please. Def Jam hit ME up (well, I hit up Lenny):
…and, in turn, I did what any friend would do (there’s more than one, but I just don’t feel like devoting that much energy into bullshit):