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File: November 2006

| October 31, 2006 | 0 Comments

Must Be Election Time

In the spirit of talking out of both sides of one’s mouth, Universal Music made a pair of separate statements as it adapts awkwardly to digital. Coinciding with Google’s acquisition of YouTube for a cool $1.65 billion — Google’s estimated worth is $100 billion — several record companies including Universal reached agreements with the digital video community as far as the copyrights on music videos and related content.

Becoming part of a publicly held company was a sign to the major labels saying YouTube would be relatively accountable for any potentially questionable (offensive?) content. This is in part why YouTube diehards seem shaken — they’re wondering what restrictions are coming.

Of course, YouTubers can take solace in their choice of Web community. On Tuesday, October 17th Universal sued both Grouper and Bolt (YouTube competitors) for allowing users to swap pirated versions of music videos, according to Reuters. Similar to suits filed against individual music-file pirates, Universal seeks $150,000 for each copyright violation alleging the sites “cannot reasonably expect to build their business on the backs of our content . . . without compensating the content creators.” They also raised the possibility of flagging movie piracy as well, because Sony Pictures falls under the Universal/Vivendi umbrella. And you thought they were grasping the freedom of the Internet. Run, YouTube users! RUN!

— Steve Forstneger

Escape From The Suburbs

Suburban kids who migrate to the big city are a dime a dozen these days. But with the one-man hip-hop musical, “Clay,” playwright/actor Matt Sax develops a character who evacuates suburbia for an unusually sensational reason: to save his sanity.


Held in the Lookingglass’ intimate Chase Studio Theatre, this solo performance sees Sax dizzyingly portray the life of the impressionable protagonist Clifford — a kid who deals with mounting drama in his family by learning how to express himself through rap. With innumerable facial expressions and postures, Sax also embodies Clifford’s scummy father, passive mother, seductive stepmother, and his stoic mentor-on-the-mic, Sir John. What’s especially impressive about Sax’s show is how he actually raps through most of it. And to top it off, this recent Northwestern graduate’s flow isn’t half bad. The problem with this musical is the Shakespearean extremes Sax implements to justify Clifford’s transformation from a self-conscious suburbanite to an urban-dwelling Master Of Ceremony named Clay. By the play’s climax, it’s hard not to be taken aback by the fatal twists that unfurl. Sure, hip-hop is a powerful platform to relieve the stresses of life, but maybe Sax could have told a similar story without going so over-the-top. As is, though, “Clay” is an eye-opening performance that boldly greets the world of hip-hop with theater. And for that alone Sax deserves props.

“Clay” runs through November 17th at the Lookingglass’ Chase Studio Theatre (

— Max Herman

Revenge For 1812

When we caught Chicago rapper Rhymefest at Intonation Festival in June, his voice had degenerated into a faint rasp from overuse, yet he soldiered on, even freestyling. The devotion to hip-hop was no fluke. Caught off guard by the British leader of the Tory (conservative) party, Rhymefest wrote a letter asking David Cameron what he meant by rap “encourages people to carry guns and knives.” In return, Cameron invited him to meet during ‘Fest’s U.K. tour on October 19th, and the duo discussed the responsibility of music. “[Cameron] seemed to have genuine concern,” Rhymefest told NME. Asked if it was a Tory publicity stunt he responded, “Who am I? I haven’t sold a million records. I’m one of the least of us. If he’s willing to have a conversation with the least of us, that means the Labour Party has to catch up.”

— Steve Forstneger

Category: Columns, File, Monthly

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