posted on Nov, 16 2014 @ 12:14 AM
After more than 20 years, I've finally decided to tell the world what I witnessed in 1991, which I believe was one of the biggest turning point in
popular music, and ultimately American society. I have struggled for a long time weighing the pros and cons of making this story public as I was
reluctant to implicate the individuals who were present that day. So I've simply decided to leave out names and all the details that may risk my
personal well being and that of those who were, like me, dragged into something they weren't ready for.
Between the late 80's and early 90’s, I was what you may call a “decision maker” with one of the more established company in the music
industry. I came from Europe in the early 80’s and quickly established myself in the business. The industry was different back then. Since
technology and media weren’t accessible to people like they are today, the industry had more control over the public and had the means to influence
them anyway it wanted. This may explain why in early 1991, I was invited to attend a closed door meeting with a small group of music business insiders
to discuss rap music’s new direction. Little did I know that we would be asked to participate in one of the most unethical and destructive business
practice I’ve ever seen.
The meeting was held at a private residence on the outskirts of Los Angeles. I remember about 25 to 30 people being there, most of them familiar
faces. Speaking to those I knew, we joked about the theme of the meeting as many of us did not care for rap music and failed to see the purpose of
being invited to a private gathering to discuss its future. Among the attendees was a small group of unfamiliar faces who stayed to themselves and
made no attempt to socialize beyond their circle. Based on their behavior and formal appearances, they didn't seem to be in our industry. Our casual
chatter was interrupted when we were asked to sign a confidentiality agreement preventing us from publicly discussing the information presented during
the meeting. Needless to say, this intrigued and in some cases disturbed many of us. The agreement was only a page long but very clear on the matter
and consequences which stated that violating the terms would result in job termination. We asked several people what this meeting was about and the
reason for such secrecy but couldn't find anyone who had answers for us. A few people refused to sign and walked out. No one stopped them. I was
tempted to follow but curiosity got the best of me. A man who was part of the “unfamiliar” group collected the agreements from us.
Quickly after the meeting began, one of my industry colleagues (who shall remain nameless like everyone else) thanked us for attending. He then gave
the floor to a man who only introduced himself by first name and gave no further details about his personal background. I think he was the owner of
the residence but it was never confirmed. He briefly praised all of us for the success we had achieved in our industry and congratulated us for being
selected as part of this small group of “decision makers”. At this point I begin to feel slightly uncomfortable at the strangeness of this
gathering. The subject quickly changed as the speaker went on to tell us that the respective companies we represented had invested in a very
profitable industry which could become even more rewarding with our active involvement. He explained that the companies we work for had invested
millions into the building of privately owned prisons and that our positions of influence in the music industry would actually impact the
profitability of these investments. I remember many of us in the group immediately looking at each other in confusion. At the time, I didn’t know
what a private prison was but I wasn't the only one. Sure enough, someone asked what these prisons were and what any of this had to do with us. We
were told that these prisons were built by privately owned companies who received funding from the government based on the number of inmates. The more
inmates, the more money the government would pay these prisons. It was also made clear to us that since these prisons are privately owned, as they
become publicly traded, we’d be able to buy shares. Most of us were taken back by this. Again, a couple of people asked what this had to do with us.
At this point, my industry colleague who had first opened the meeting took the floor again and answered our questions. He told us that since our
employers had become silent investors in this prison business, it was now in their interest to make sure that these prisons remained filled. Our job
would be to help make this happen by marketing music which promotes criminal behavior, rap being the music of choice. He assured us that this would be
a great situation for us because rap music was becoming an increasingly profitable market for our companies, and as employee, we’d also be able to
buy personal stocks in these prisons. Immediately, silence came over the room. You could have heard a pin drop. I remember looking around to make sure
I wasn't dreaming and saw half of the people with dropped jaws. My daze was interrupted when someone shouted, “Is this a f****** joke?” At this
point things became chaotic. Two of the men who were part of the “unfamiliar” group grabbed the man who shouted out and attempted to remove him
from the house. A few of us, myself included, tried to intervene. One of them pulled out a gun and we all backed off. They separated us from the crowd
and all four of us were escorted outside. My industry colleague who had opened the meeting earlier hurried out to meet us and reminded us that we had
signed agreement and would suffer the consequences of speaking about this publicly or even with those who attended the meeting. I asked him why he was
involved with something this corrupt and he replied that it was bigger than the music business and nothing we’d want to challenge without risking
consequences. We all protested and as he walked back into the house I remember word for word the last thing he said, “It’s out of my hands now.
Remember you signed an agreement.” He then closed the door behind him. The men rushed us to our cars and actually watched until we drove off.
A million things were going through my mind as I drove away and I eventually decided to pull over and park on a side street in order to collect my
thoughts. I replayed everything in my mind repeatedly and it all seemed very surreal to me. I was angry with myself for not having taken a more active
role in questioning what had been presented to us. I'd like to believe the shock of it all is what suspended my better nature. After what seemed like
an eternity, I was able to calm myself enough to make it home. I didn't talk or call anyone that night. The next day back at the office, I was
visibly out of it but blamed it on being under the weather. No one else in my department had been invited to the meeting and I felt a sense of guilt
for not being able to share what I had witnessed. I thought about contacting the 3 others who wear kicked out of the house but I didn't remember
their names and thought that tracking them down would probably bring unwanted attention.