So now that we’re in the new era of Black Power, I guess that means we’re going to see more of this kind of embarrassing behavior of black people fightin’ amongst themselves over money. Black billionaire Cathy Hughes has been pummeling Rep. John Conyers & members of the CBC to continue reaping profits at the expense of recording artists. It’s easy to look at Jay-Z and Beyonce and say, oh they don’t need no mo. But the fact is that there are hundreds and thousands of other artists who aren’t Roc-A-Fella, if you know what I mean. We’ve all heard the classic stories of artists getting ripped off for their music. Basically whenever you buy a CD or download a song (that you paid for, ahem), the artist gets a cut but NOT when a song is played on the radio. Conyers’ legislation is intended to close this loophole.

Whassup? Here’s’s take:

A battle over music royalties has pitted members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) against the owners of black radio stations, sparking a rare public fight between African-American powerbrokers that could work against lawmakers used to easy reelection.
Leading the charge against the lawmakers is Cathy Hughes, the founder and chairwoman of Radio One, the nation’s largest black-owned broadcast company.

She has aired a series of radio ads targeting black lawmakers, with the most recent round questioning the ethical integrity of House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.), the chief sponsor of the legislation calling for radio stations to pay royalties to musical performers, and seeking to connect him to federal bribery-related charges to which his wife recently pleaded guilty.

The fight has divided the liberal civil rights community, with the NAACP and the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) supporting Conyers while black leaders such as the Rev. Al Sharpton and the Rev. Jesse Jackson line up with Hughes, Radio One and other black-owned stations.

Radio One’s ads have also criticized Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) and three other members of the CBC: Reps. Mel Watt (D-N.C.), Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) and Robert “Bobby” Scott (D-Va.).

Diva Dionne Warwick, who like other artists supporting Conyers’ MusicFIRST bill, is under attack by Hughes and Radio One put it best in HuffPo:

You can begin to understand Ms. Hughes’ willingness to rip off black artists when you take a look at who she attacks and the kind of company she keeps. During the last presidential campaign she repeatedly attacked Barack Obama, calling him “a dazzling deception” and implied that we supported him because black people are easily fooled. She has even supported the current chairman of the Republican Party, Michael Steele, who said he would attract more African Americans to his party by offering “fried chicken and potato salad.” This is hardly a woman who is looking out for what’s best for the African American community.

The struggling musicians who need the Civil Rights for Musicians Act don’t want a handout from Cathy Hughes or Clear Channel or the National Association of Broadcasters, which is the mouthpiece of big — largely white — corporate radio. They just want to be paid for their work. This legislation would make sure that these artists are directly compensated, not the recording executives who may have stolen from them much as Ms. Hughes and Radio One steals from them now.

Hughes needs to jump back because a) the attacks are unfair, b) artists deserve to be paid for their work and c) the world is changing and black radio needs to keep up. I admire Hughes for her biz-savvy, but let’s not forget — a bizzatch is only bout the benjamins and is looking out for #1. IMO…Hughes needs to check herself and step back, before she burns more bridges in the black community.

And as for Jesse and Al? Isn’t it always funny how they both tend to end up on the side of big money, honey?

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