The Future of Music

By Victoria Sheridan, The Oakland Tribune

Indies offer an important advantage over major labels - creative control.

Oakland rapper Paris reactivated Scarface Records, the label he formed in 1987 to release his initial singles, when Warner Bros. Records refused early this year to release his album "Sleeping with the Enemy." Still shell-shocked over the furor surrounding Ice-T's "Cop Killer," the label balked at the song "Bush Killa," a graphic fantasy about killing the president.

When no other company would touch the song or the album it appears on, Paris decided to take the money from his settlement with Warners and do it on his own. The strategy worked, as "Sleeping" has sold more than 260,000 copies in its first few weeks of release, a hit even by major·label standards.

Paris says his experience reinforced what he suspected all along.

"I think all rap needs to be on indie labels," he says from Scarface's Telegraph Avenue offices. "You never know whether you can trust the big companies, especially if you're at all political.

''The name of the game in the '90s is control."

The rapper says he already working on expanding Scarface by signing other artists, who should appreciate the artistic freedom an indie offers.

"You hear way too many bull- records on the radio that don't say a thing. We need people who are going to shake things up."

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