Paris Takes the Money and Runs . . . His Own Label
By Steve Hochman, The Los Angeles Times
Oakland rapper Paris has released an album that depicts the killing of President Bush, using money that Time Warner paid him for not releasing it.
Paris’ Scarface record label has come out with his controversial “Sleeping With the Enemy” album. Time Warner’s Warner Music Group passed on the record in July amid a debate over the song “Bush Killa” and artwork depicting the armed rapper laying in wait for the President.
The 25-year-old rapper says he used the “six figures” that Time Warner gave him for not releasing “Enemy” to turn Scarface--on which he had previously released some of his own singles--into a going concern. “That money put me into business,” Paris said. “For the first time ever, I had the chance to put my money where my mouth is--and I took it.”
The controversy over “Sleeping With the Enemy” erupted in July when Paris, whose work is in the stark, socially conscious rap tradition of Ice Cube and Public Enemy, delivered the album to New York’s Tommy Boy Records, a Warner Music Group subsidiary.
Tommy Boy officials wanted to release the album, but were vetoed by higher-ups at Warner, which had been the target of protests earlier in the summer over Ice-T’s “Cop Killer” recording.
Rick Rubin, the outspoken head of another Warner Music-affiliated label, Def American, tried to buy the rights to the album so that he could release it independently. But he, too, was rebuffed by Time Warner brass.
“In my opinion, this whole thing was a systematic attempt by Warner Music to delay the album until post-election,” Paris says.
The song “Bush Killa” and the artwork of an armed Paris lying in wait for the President remain on the album. But Paris is frustrated that the album wasn’t heard before the election.
“It was disheartening to me to see the election have little discussion of issues relevant to the black community,” he says. “That was the idea of making ‘Bush Killa’ . . . to inject my issues into the campaign.”
Paris, who says he voted for President-elect Clinton, hopes that the “Bush Killa” message and others on the largely political record will still be seen as relevant and that people will see beyond the violent imagery.
Sample lyrics of “Bush Killa”:
All I wanna see is (expletive) brains hangin’
Another level when it’s me and devils gangbangin’ ...
Give him two from the barrel of a Black Guerrilla
And that’s real from the (expletive) Bush Killa.
He maintains the recording is not meant to glorify violence and he rejects assassination as a tool of social change.
“Just because Clinton’s coming in doesn’t mean things will change,” he says. "(But) I’m optimistic that things will get better and that I won’t have to write ‘Clinton Killa.’ ”