Bite Me: The Reason I Attract Vampire RappersPosted: May 8, 2015
The first rap I ever wrote won a talent show in summer camp when I was 10 years old. The song was called “We’re Fresh” and it was pretty horrible. Or maybe it was just really elementary. My cousin Dre Knight and I sang the repetitive chorus on stage rocking Hawaiian shirts on our way to victory. We beat a team of older dudes with better bars and flows…later on I found out that they borrowed some of their raps from Big Daddy Kane’s “Just Rhymin’ With Biz.”
At the time we didn’t know where their verses came from so when I heard a young kid spit, “If rap was a game I’d be MVP, most valuable poet on the m-i-c…” I figured we were cooked.
But as fate would have it, originality and the Hawaiian theme must have won over the judges. When we got back to school Dre bragged to everyone about how nice I was at rap.
Unfortunately I had not written another verse after that win, but the rep I had led to me being on the school bus one day with my classmates prompting me to rhyme. This was a very long time ago before a rap song entitled, “The Symphony” hit the mainstream. I don’t even know if it was released yet because my brother was working with Masta Ace and he may have given him an early copy which I dubbed and listened to everyday.
Maybe it was something subconscious in my mind that told me that those guys we beat in that talent show had the right idea. Maybe I felt like it was all about impressing people first, then working on your craft later. That indecision and improvisation inspired me to borrow 8 bars from Big Daddy Kane’s killer closing verse from the aforementioned classic Juice Crew anthem,
“Setting it off, letting it off, beginning,
rough to the ending, you never been in
to move the groove with the smooth rap lord:
like a bottle of juice, rhymes are being poured
down your ear, crisp and clear, as I prepare,
to wear, tear and smear, then I’m outta here…”
The bus went crazy, I was considered great and my legend grew. That night I went home feeling the pressure and decided to write my own rhymes. The only positive thing that came from my thievery was that I actually believed I was good and my only hurdle was that I just hadn’t taken time to write. My first rap won a contest for God’s sake, it’s not like I needed to steal Kane’s verse. That was how I rationalized what I did. It didn’t make sense but it did set off my music career.
Fast forward many years later and I am in the latter part of an independent music journey that started out mainstream and probably has one more undefined chapter left. Recently it came to my attention that a rap artist out of Sacramento took some of my lines and reused them as his own. I had never heard of the guy until it was brought to my attention on Twitter and my response to the news was simple: Not again?!
Was this some sort of Big Daddy Kane karma?
See this isn’t the first time someone has taken music from me. The funny part about it is that there is always a bit of duality I feel when the news reaches me. At first I’m in awe that someone could call themselves a rap artist and steal from another rapper. Then I want to know details about the theft. How did they find me? Why didn’t they think about reaching out to me? What made them feel I wasn’t popular enough and it was ok for them to reuse my rhymes? How did they figure that they wouldn’t get caught? And finally, what would make them believe they should be paid for music that they didn’t create? It’s a little creepy.
When I found out about a rapper stealing my songs last year I was able to go on his Soundcloud page and there were 3 songs he posted that were mine word for word. He had different titles but he took everything and rapped it over as if it was his. He even went and got a singer to redo the vocals that Focus wrote. In his defense, the man paid someone else to write for him and that writer sold my verses. And although the rap dude apologized, explained that he didn’t know that I was his ghostwriter’s ghostwriter, he took the songs down, showed me the contract with the dude and we even got on the phone and he let me know that the culprit was in prison… I was still disturbed.
But after that incident I decided to let it go and just accept the fact that someone stumbled upon me and believed my material was fair game.
Well then this Sacramento guy surfaced and I was alerted that he was actually gaining buzz using some of my words in his music. Of course I assumed he took a line or two. But similar to the other guy, he pilfered an entire selection of mine. He copied it line for line and allowed it to surface online.
Again I was amazed that someone could retrieve a song from the marvelous World Wide Web and then place the same piece on the net. That’s like stealing someone’s research paper after they submitted it, changing the name on the top and turning it in again to the same instructor. But yet still this young man stole multiple verses from me and other emcees like Diabolic, Apathy, Jon Connor, and my boy Nino Bless. Nino and I got on the phone and chopped it up about the situation and he was just as appalled as I was.
We tried to make sense of it all and come up with reasons or rationale that would sum up his plot. Could he be delusional and mentally ill? Was he planning to rise so fast using others that his method for ascension wouldn’t matter? Or did he just assume that his fans and listeners would not include the same ones that know the music of the men he ripped off? We heard his rap moniker is taken from a marvel character that can mimic anyone he sees and use their power.
I have to also point out that he feared no physical repercussion for his actions and I’m not offended by that. It’s not like I go around spraying artillery in my verses so that he would have to fear his life but still it made me think about my rep in the “streets.”
Some of Nino’s questions were answered when the thief posted a “response” (not an apology) that did not name names or speak directly about what he did. He put up an edited video with 2 camera angles as he beat around the bush, mentioned shortcuts, pressure to write and be great, and the most humorous part was that he said he felt bad because he brought out the worst in everyone else that had negative words to say about his heinous act. I’m paraphrasing but what he’s saying is that his antics made people hate him and say vile and cruel loud thoughts. If they were undeserved insults I would grasp his point but he had no case at all.
I took the bait and commented on his post on Facebook as if he would actually respond. The truth is he will not respond…but in one post, this polarizing figure managed to accumulate so much traffic and comments that people began to promote their songs on the thread. I cannot feed into the foolishness and give this guy anymore press but I will say that this may become a trend in the new world of hip-hop. And I would hate to overreact to what may be up next. Cover songs, image theft, album title and artwork jacking…there may be a whole movement of re-doers that will turn hip-hop into karaoke and then call it a tribute once they’re discovered.
So let me find some type of summation as I’ve already rambled enough about this topic with no true direction that you can walk away with. Stealing is bad, we know that part. I’ve been inspired, I’ve adopted flows I’ve heard, I’ve even took a line from a movie or comedian and turned it into a rap line but never would I take someone’s work in an attempt to make everyone feel as though I composed it myself. So Mr. Antonio Hardy aka Big Daddy Kane, I am sorry I pretended your words were mine that day but if this is payback then I am getting what I deserve ten times over.
Why would someone feel like it was ok to take from me? And why would more than one person do it? I guess it’s simple to think that rappers hear me and feel like I’m better than my numbers appear to be. They feel as if certain songs and lines will not be heard by the masses so it is ok to reinvent the words. When Jay told Nas, “You made it a hot line, I made it a hot song…” That might sum up my whole career so far.
As much as I think this guy is a bit evil and he was receiving money on the road and getting recognition for being a dope lyricist, I’m not upset at that. I don’t mind that he sampled my entire song. I am not hurt that he was increasing his notoriety, that he made up some spooky inspiration for the intricate story that I composed and that he felt zero remorse for it all. I am on one hand, fortunate for the spotlight that has been shed on me, and on the other, saddened by my lack of popularity and disturbed that this dude may have actually won.
In this era of web hits, views and likes, any time your name pops up it’s a grand feat. And son has achieved all of that. He may get the dislike button hit multiple times but if he ever decides to approach music again, he now has a platform and a story that will gain curiosity and interest. There are young fans of bars and real hip-hop that do not know my name and know his. Complex even did a story on the guy. The bright side is that it has awaken to me to continue to create and reach more people. If my song was well-received by people that never heard of me, then I’m sure they might enjoy more thought-provoking words from me. God bless this man and I hope he finds himself.