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“Industry rule number four thousand and eighty: record company people are shady. So kids watch your back ’cause I think they smoke crack, I don’t doubt it. Look at how they act.” (“Check The Rhime” – A Tribe Called Quest)
My guess after watching the TLC biopic is that Tionne, Lisa, nor Rozonda listens to A Tribe Called Quest. Well they should have because then they wouldn’t need two hours plus commercials to explain to the world how they can sell a bunch of records and still work third shift at Wal-Mart. But relax this post isn’t mainly about them but more about their former manager, Perri ‘Pebbles’ Reid and the others like her.
How can I put this nicely? Folks like Pebbles, Puff Daddy, Clive Davis, Chris Stokes, and countless others are what we in the real world call a pimp. A pimp is a person who controls prostitutes (in this case artists) and arranges clients (fans) for them, taking a major part of their earnings in return. A pimp preys on the gullible and naïve. By their own admission, TLC just wanted to be rich and famous. And like those before and after them, they didn’t bother to read their contracts. Major no-no. Like a used car salesman, record executives will sell you a box of crackerjacks and tell you it’s a box of gold. The ones who usually fall for this are those who came from nothing.
Here’s the thing, I would be like the countless others who sided with TLC and called Pebbles the devil, but I’m not. Record companies were built on shadiness. Motown, Def Jam, Death Row and most of all Bad Boy. That’s why new acts (and naïve old acts) need to read and reread everything that’s put in front of them. It’s hard to feel sorry for acts who are dealing with issues that they signed on the dotted line for. Now don’t think I’m condoning executives’ behavior but the music industry is a business. And the best businesses thrive on cheap labor. So instead of paying artists their royalties, they’ll just give them Aunt Mable’s used Rav4.
The best advice for this situation and others like this is to read and ask questions. If things seem shady, that’s most likely the case. Don’t sign on the line if you have doubts on your mind (I got bars son, lol). And in the words of Tricky: “Foolish, life’s too short for stray bullets. Record companies love when they kill themselves. It boosts up the record sales.” Don’t be the next artist to get bent over & screwed with no Vaseline by the big machine. Play it smart, educate yourself. – Pooh Bailey