Jewish Hegemony in the Music World
by Der Stürmer
The Jews who dominated Tin Pan Alley and the turn-of-the century vaudeville world were also central in the popularization and propagation of profoundly demeaning African-American stereotypes. Pamela Brown Lavitt notes Tin Pan Alley and the many onstage Jewish “coon callers”:
“Jewish women vaudevillians at the turn of the century popularized what is now a little-discussed and misunderstood performance venue, known as “coon shouting” … Trying to break into the entertainment business, [Tin Pan Alley entrepreneurs’] aesthetics were circumscribed in a vehemently antiblack and xenophobic milieu. By the mid-1880-s they had formed a tight-knit Tin Pan Alley industry that came to dominate vaudeville and early black musicals … Intended as comedy, coon song ranged from jocular and dismissive to cruel and sadistic … Coon song sheet music and illustrated covers proliferated defamatory images of blacks in barely coded slanderous lyrics. For example, the ‘N’ word and associated inferences were dispatched in words like ‘mammy,’ ‘honey boy,’ ‘pickinniny,’ ‘chocolate,’ ‘watermelon,’ ‘possum,’ and the most prevalent ‘coon.'” [LAVITT, P., 2000, p. 253-258]
Especially well known Jewish “coon callers” included Sophie Tucker, Stella Mayhew, Fanny Brice, Anna Held, Eddie Cantor, and Al Jolson.
Jews have long gravitated to an entrepreneurial exploitation of the Black cultural scene and jazz music. As Burton Peretti notes:
“Aside from the hazards of the mob [organized crime] environment, the exploitation faced by jazz players was rather typical for this era [1930s and 1940s]. Jazz, like minstrels and ragtime before it, came under the control of professional promoters who sought to make music profitable. [They adapted] the technique of advertising, song plugging, and vaudeville … Some promoters, like Joe Glaser (who managed Louis Armstrong in the thirties) were associates of organized crime who left the underworld when prohibition was repealed. Glaser apparently had overseen Al Capone’s profits from the Sunset Cafe and a prostitution ring before he became Armstrong’s manager in 1935. Many more promoters, however, were veterans of Tin Pan Alley, Manhattan’s song-publishing industry, including Irving Mills, a former singer and songwriter who managed Duke Ellington’s and other black bands in the thirties.” [PERETTI, p. 147]
Glaser ran the Associated Booking Corporation, often “the exclusive agent for many of the top Black performers. He became a close associate of many of the top underworld figures in Chicago and New York, whom he met through his band-booking agency.” [MOLDEA, p. 14] Glaser had been an early partner in the company with eventual MCA chief Jules Stein. In 1962, mob-linked attorney Sidney Korshak, also Jewish, gained control of the ABC company. [MCDOUGAL, p. 141] Mills and Paddy Harmon, owner of Chicago’s Dreamland Cafe, “sought and gained spurious renown, as Mills took partial credit for many Ellington compositions and Harmon patented and gave his name to a trumpet mute that had long been popular among Joe Oliver and other black players.” [PERETTI, p. 148]
The rip-off of Black artists was a norm for the era. As Al Silverman notes in the case of Fats Waller: “In his time Fats wrote the melodies to over 360 songs. Not that many bear his name today, unfortunately, because when money was needed he’d write the music and sell all rights to unscrupulous Tin Pan Alley characters.” [SILVERMAN, p. 129-130] “That practice of show business share-cropping … in the 1920s and 1930s,” notes the director of Harlem’s Apollo Amateur Night, Ralph Cooper, “existed right on through the fifties and sixties. Its bitterness still exists among many performers to this day — a bitterness from the theft of their songs, their sound, their talent.” [COOPER, p. 199]
Jewish singers “Sophie Tucker, Eddie Cantor and Al Jolson,” notes Donald Fischer, “performed in blackface at the beginning of their careers, singing black songs. They later built on their successes in this medium to develop national statures and professional sucesses with other music. However, their early songs were for the most part borrowed or plagiarized from African-American sources, with little or no public recognition — or monetary reward — for the creative talents that produced them.” [FISCHER, D., 6-30-2000, p. 21A]
Jews were also prominent in the overseeing of the Black community’s jazz life, including the control of musical clubs in Black neighborhoods in a variety of American cities. “The invasion of the Black community by organized crime lords with connections to downtown money,” notes Ted Vincent, “was certainly the most sensational contribution to the loss of Black oversight of neighborhood dance halls and theatres.” [VINCENT, p. 176] “Slumming resorts” served a largely non-Black audience and “were noted for their riverboat decor, fake magnolia plants, and nearly nude dancers … Perhaps the nationwide pioneer in the resorts was Isadore Shor’s Entertainment Cafe.” [VINCENT, p. 78] In Harlem, such clubs included Connie’s Inn (owned by Connie Innerman) and the famed Apollo Theatre. “From the opening of the [Apollo] building in 1912 until 1934,” notes Vincent, “the theatre was a showcase for white [i.e., largely Jewish] vaudeville burlesque shows, with white strippers coming to be the main attraction.” [VINCENT, p. 189] The Apollo was eventually sold by “Burlesque Kings Hurtig and Seaman” to Sid Cohen and Morris Sussman, and then to Frank Schiffman and Leo Brecher. Brecher also owned the Douglas, the Roosevelt, the Lafayette Theatre (“the prime showcase for black talent in America”) [COOPER, p. 44], and the Harlem Opera House located a block from the Apollo. [VINCENT, p. 189-192] Jay Fagan, and Moses and Charles Gale (Galewski), founded the popular Savoy Ballroom in 1926.
Mel Watkins notes the reputation in the Black community of dominant mogul Frank Schiffman:
“Schiffman was a controversial figure in black entertainment. Admired and respected by some, scorned and excoriated by others, he was rarely viewed neutrally. His Machiavellian approach to business is a matter of record, and most would admit that he was an unrepentant shark in business matters. He quickly eliminated his competitors and for decades eradicated all serious competition, which earned him the grudging esteem of other showmen. Among performers, however, the estimate was not glowing. Of his knowledge of black acts, John Bubbles [an African-American performer of the era] said, ‘Only thing he knew was how to get people cheap as he could, and work them as long as he could.’ And John Hammond, a record producer and friend, flatly declared ‘Frank had no artistic taste at all.'” [WATKINS, M., 1994, p. 386]
Samuel Charters and Leonard Kunstad note the situation of another famous nightclub:
“The Cotton Club had opened at 142nd St. and Lexington Ave. in 1922 with a strict policy of white only. The owner, Bernard Levy, had pressed his policy, despite loud protests from the Harlem community. He used Negro orchestras and a Negro revue and ran it as a tourist attraction for society people who wanted to see a little of ‘Harlem life’ … The club was forced to admit colored patrons during the next winter, but the prices he kept high and it remained predominantly a tourist attraction until the Depression.” [CHARTERS, p. 217] New York’s Latin Quarter club (with eventual branches in other cities) was also owned by a Jew, Lou Walters, father of famous newscaster Barbara Walters; Monte Kay was the founder of the famous Birdland jazz club. He too was Jewish. Mobster Morris Levy later controlled the place. As Israeli scholar Robert Rockaway notes about a common undercurrent in such night life: “Jewish Gangsters frequented nightclubs … In fact, Jewish underworld figures owned many nightspots and speakeasies. In New York, Dutch Schultz owned the Embassy Club. Charley ‘King’ Solomon owned Boston’s Coconut Grove. In Newark, Longy Zwillman owned the Blue Mirror and the Casablanca Club. Boo Boo Hoff owned the Picadilly Cafe in Philadelphia. Detroit’s [Jewish] Purple Gang owned Luigi’s Cafe, one of the city’s more opulent clubs. Jewish singers and comedians, such as Al Jolson, Eddie Cantor, Fanny Brice and Sophie Tucker played in the mob clubs.” [ROCKAWAY, R., 1993, p. 205]
Upset with outsider exploitation and degradation of the Black community (where many night clubs were located), there was an effort by the Marcus Garvey African-American movement as early as the 1920s to institute Black-owned Liberty Halls “where the musical offerings would be part of an overall effort at community uplift and not just a profit-oriented business.” [VINCENT, p. 114] (From France, even the international jet-set luxury playground/resort of “Club Med” was founded by Gerard Blitz, and built to power by Gilbert Trigano. Both are also Jewish. By 1999 the firm had 116 sites in 36 countries, now headed by Gilbert’s son Serge. [REGULY, E., 4-25-88, pl. 24; MCDONELL, E., 5-1-99, p. D10] Hollywood’s Roxy nightclub was founded by the Jewish managerial trio of David Geffen, Loud Adler, and Bill Graham. [KING, T., 2000, p. 187]
Jews have of course been prominent over the years as musical performers. These included three of the most influential band leaders of the 1930s — Benny Goodman (“the King of Swing”), Harry James, and Artie Shaw (Arthur Arshansky). More recent popular names include Leonard Bernstein, Andre Previn, Arthur Fiedler, Stephen Sondheim, and many others.
As noted earlier too, by the 1930s MCA (Music Corporation of America) was a powerful talent agency, founded by Jules Stein and built later to power by Sidney Sheinbein and Lew Wasserman, who ultimately became one of the most powerful men in Hollywood. Ronald Brownstein observes that: “By the mid-1930s, MCA controlled many of the country’s most popular bands, from Tommy Dorsey to Artie Shaw.” [BROWNSTEIN, p. 181] For years, MCA’s Jules Stein, adds Michale Pye, “ran the music business so toughly that no dance hall would stand against him.” [PYE, p. 18-19] In a 1946 antitrust trial that MCA lost, a Los Angeles federal judge “declared that MCA held a virtual monopoly over the entertainment business.” The presiding judge also stated that MCA was “the Octopus … with tentacles reaching out into all phases and grasping everything in show business.” [MOLDEA, p. 2, 3] “The one man,” notes non-Jewish band leader Guy Lombardo, “who probably more than any other solidified the business and hastened the era of the Big Bands was Jules Stein. He had started his Music Corporation of America in Chicago and to that city gravitated bands from all over the country, seeking the buildup and engagements they would get if MCA took them in the fold.” Lombardo was also under contract to Stein. [LOMBARDO, G., 1975, p. 153] Stein even wrote an introduction to Lombardo’s autobiography.
For years MCA increasingly interfaced with Chicago’s Mafia and other underworld personalities. Seemingly omnipresent in Hollywood was lawyer Sidney Korshak. “A close friend of Stein’s and Wasserman’s,” says Dan Moldea, “Korshak quickly became one of the most powerful influences in the entertainment industry and in California politics … [MOLDEA, p. 5] … Korshak … has been described by federal investigators as the principle link between the [Hollywood] legitimate business world and organized crime.” [MOLDEA, p. 2]
And rock and roll? The Jewish foundation continued. “The most famous and important [rhythm and blues disc jockey],” note Steve Chapple and Reebee Garofalo, “was … Alan Freed, the father of Rock ‘n’ Roll … Freed was credited with co-writing fifteen rock and rock hits including Chuck Berry’s ‘Maybelline,’ but he did little more than promote any of them.” [CHAPPLE, p. 56-57] A biography of Freed notes that “by 1956, there was no bigger name in rock and roll than Freed, except Elvis Presley.” [JACKSON, p. ix] (Another of America’s best known early disc jockeys was also Jewish, Murray the K, aka Murray Kaufman). In 1960, Freed was indicted for accepting $30,000 in bribes to play songs at his radio station. “[Freed] grabbed the kids and led them to the great rock candy mountain,” says Albert Goldman, “He named their music, coined its us-against-them rhetoric, created rock show biz, including the package tour … Alan Freed is really one of the principal exhibits in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Ill Fame … [He] was not only a crook but a self-righteous hypocrite. Even [Freed’s manager] Morris Levy [with deep ties to the criminal underworld, particular the Mafioso Gigante family] had to concede that the ‘Father of Rock ‘n’ Roll’ was not a nice man. Speaking as one Jew to another Jew about a third Jew, Levy said simply: ‘He could have been another Hitler.'” [GOLDMAN, p. 519-520]
In a book about the Atlantic Records empire (later swallowed by Warners), Dorothy Wade and Justine Picardie noted Morris Levy and the kinds of people that populated the rock and roll industry: “The truth is, with or without mob connections, Morris Levy was much more typical of the new music moguls than either [non-Jewish] Ahmet Ertegun or [Jewish] Jerry Wexler … The world in which Atlantic had to survive was populated largely by hoodlums and hustlers.” [WADE, p. 57] As Syd Nathan, the owner of King Records, once said, “You want to be in the record business? The first thing you learn is that everyone is a liar.” [WADE, p. 60] “The early rhythm and blues companies were run by a fraternity of Jews … They were tough and they were shrewd — some say unscrupulous — and they were alternately loved, despised, respected, and feared. The deep bond of these cultural outsiders prompted one gentile, mild rebuke in his voice, to comment that ‘Yiddish was the second language of the record business.” [COHODAS, N., p. 3-4, 2000]
“To the general public,” notes Steve Chapple and Reebee Garofalo, “the music business seems to have a tremendous amount of corruption.” [CHAPPLE, p. 226] “I think in Hollywood,” media psychologist Stuart Fischel of California State University at Los Angeles told the Los Angeles Times in 1993, “people get into a kind of mind meld. You can come in as a relatively moral and ethical person, but eventually [Hollywood] produces a re-socializing of a subculture with different norms and ethics based on hedonism and materialism. It’s hard to know what’s going to breach the bounds of acceptable criminality in Hollywood.” [ELLER, p. B8, B11] Aside from drugs, prostitution, and all the other extracurricular norms of the interrelated music, film, and television worlds of Hollywood, just at the most basic business level, “payola [bribery] has been a key factor in the establishment of major artists,” says Roger Karshner, “the evolution of publishing dynasties and the creation of recording empires. Payola, layola, and taking care of business are the ABC’s of the music industry past and present. It has taken many forms, and many publishers, artists, managers, and record people at all levels have participated in payola practices.” [KARSHNER, p. 39]
Probably the most important early rhythm and blues recording company was Chess Records, founded by Leonard and Phillip Chess, Jewish immigrants from Poland. They started out with a scrap metal business in the ghetto, then moved into the liquor business, eventually owning several bars in the Black neighborhoods of South Chicago, including the large Macamba Club, which was “reputedly a prime center for prostitution and heavy drug dealing.” [DIXON, p. 78] The Chess brothers soon recognized a profitable opportunity open to them with the many Black musical acts that played at their nightclubs; the entrepreneurs soon embarked upon a recording business, eventually producing blues, gospel, and rock and rock music. Seminal Black artists who signed on to the Chess label included Bo Diddley, Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Etta James, Chuck Berry, and many others. Berry’s songs were among the most influential in rock and roll history. “Some people have called Leonard and Phillip Chess visionaries who recognized the potential in the visceral blues of post-World War II Chicago, “says Don Snowden, who co-wrote the auto-biography of bluesman Willie Dixon, “A far greater number have branded the Chess brothers as exploiters who systematically took advantage of the artists who created that music.” [DIXON, p. 78] The Rolling Stones even found seminal bluesman Muddy Waters still painting the Chess’s home when they came to record in Chicago. [WADE, p. 71]
Frank Schiffman, owner of a number of musical venues in New York’s Harlem area, “was a ruthless competitor who would do anything, including take advantage of his black employees and exploit the great black artists who worked for him, in order to increase his profits and beat down the opposition.” [COOPER, p. 44]
“Remember [Black singer] Little Eva Boyd?” asks Ralph Cooper, “She worked as a babysitter for two Tin Pan Alley [Jewish] rock and roll writers, Carole King and Gerry Goffen. They wrote a song called ‘Loco-Motion’ and they asked her to sing it … Now  she lives in North Carolina, where her people are from. She’s a working mother on welfare. She works in a barbeque kitchen as a cook.” [COOPER, p. 196]
In 1997, Black singer Darlene Love won a lawsuit for back royalties against famous Jewish musical producer Phil Spector. (Originally awarded $263,000, it was later dropped down to $130,000.) Love was the anonymous lead singer on a number of 1960s-era Spector productions, including He’s a Rebel, Da Do Ron Ron, He’s Sure the Boy I Love, and other hits. In the early 1980s Ms. Love found herself cleaning toilets for a living, but her singing career later flourished anew. [WILLMAN, C., 10-15-88, CALENDAR, p. 10; WARRICK, P., 11-2-98]
“I didn’t know anything about the record business,” said early rock and roll sensation Little Richard (of “Tutti Frutti” fame) about his rock and roll career. ” I was very dumb … I was just like a sheep among a bunch of wolves that would devour me at any moment. I think I was taken advantage of because I was uneducated. I think I was treated inhumane … I think I was treated wrong and many people got rich out of the style of music I created. They are all millionaires, writ many times, and nobody offered me nothing.” [WADE, p. 74] Dorothy Wade and Justine Picardie note Little Richard’s lamentation, then add: “To which many, if not most, of his black musical contemporaries would add: Amen.” [WADE, p. 74] Among others, Richard had in mind the Jewish owner of Specialty Records, Art Rupe, who many years ago bought the rights to his songs for a paltry $10,000.
Chuck Berry remembers being cheated by the Chess brothers: “[Phil Chess finally acknowledged] in writing that no songwriter royalties had been paid for three years on my Chess Records product … [And in a review of Chess documents] I was surprised to learn that I had been paid the same songwriter royalties for an LP as I was receiving for a single record. Chess claimed to be unaware of this ‘mistake,’ as if they had never noticed that LPs had between eight and ten songs on them.” [BERRY, C., p. 246-247]
“In 1974 Howlin’ Wolf filed a lawsuit against Arc Music [the publishing wing of Chess Records, it was co-owned by the Chess brothers and two brothers of Jewish band leader Benny Goodman] [COHODAS, N., 2000, p. 37] asking for $2.5 million for unpaid royalties from his songs … In 1976 Muddy Waters and Willie Dixon filed identical lawsuits against the publishing company, alleging fraud and conspiracy and asking to paid money damages and to have their publishing contracts voided.” [COHODAS, N., 2000, p. 308]
In 1972, Martin Otelsberg became the manager of African-American musician Bo Diddley. Suspecting in later years that he had been swindled, Diddley filed suit against Otelsberg’s estate in 1994 and recovered $400,000. As Diddley’s lawyer (also Jewish) John Rosenberg noted, “This is a typical story that’s happened time and again to musicians like Bo.” [MORSE, S., 6-18-94, p. 28] Diddley complained of being cheated by the Chess brothers as well. “To me every nationality has a reason for bein’ here,” said Diddley, “an’ mostly all the Jewish people own everything. They got all the money. Give him a thousand dollars, he’ll turn it into ten million. How the heck they do it, I don’t know.” [COHODAS, N., 2000, p. 110]
The Jewish agent-producer exploitation of Black recording artists in the early rhythm and blues era of the 1940s and 1950s (and later) was predominant and widespread, entrenching a Black hostility among many to their Jewish financial controllers to the present day. The following Jewish entrepreneurs were among those who founded record labels featuring mainly Black talent: Herman Lubinsky (Savoy Records); the Braun family (DeLuxe Records); Hy Siegal, Sam Schneider and Ike Berman (Apollo Records); Saul, Joe, and Jules Bihari (Modern Records); Art Rupe (Specialty Records– its biggest hits were those of Little Richard); Lev, Edward, and Ida Messner (Philo/Aladdin Records); Al Silver and Fred Mendelsohn (Herald/Ember Records); Paul and Lilian Rainer (Black and White Records); Sam and Hy Weiss (Old Towne Records; Sol Rabinowitz (Baton Records — Rabinowitz eventually became vice president of CBS International); and Danny Kessler (head of OKeh Records, a “cheap” branch of Columbia Records). Sydney Nathan controlled both the King and Federal record labels and Florence Greenberg owned the Mafia-influenced Scepter Records (featuring the Shirelles and Dionne Warwick). “Those illiterates,” Hy Weiss of Olde Towne once said about his recording artists, “they would have ended up eating from pails in Delancey Street if it weren’t for us.” [WADE, p. 70]
“The record producers were white,” says Nadine Cohodas in her book about the Chess brothers, “their talent for the most part black, many from impoverished backgrounds and few with much formal education, living in a society that regarded them as second-class citizens. The deals between the two parties were not the negotiations of peers. The relationship coluld be paternalistic, even condescending. At Chess it sometimes looked as though Leonard and Phil gave their musicians an allowance rather than a salary.” [COHODAS, N., 2000, p. 4]
The history of rock and roll is, of course,” notes Rich Cohen, “riddled with pioneering white record men who built careers recording, and sometimes, exploiting black artists: Morris Levy, that burly, cigar-smoking product of the Brill Building, allegedly stealing writing credits from Frankie Lyman; Herman Lubinsky, the founder of Savoy Records in Newark, New Jersey, throwing around nickels as if they were manhole covers.” [COHEN, R., 6-21-01]
In Philadelphia, in 1984 lawsuits were swirling around WMOT, a company that “developed a reputation as an aggressive independent record producer specializing in the ‘Philly sound.'” Formerly owned by Steve Bernstein, Alan Rubens, and David Chacker, it was acquired by Michael Goldberg, Allen Cohen, and Jeff and Mark Salvarian. Lawsuits even named Israel’s Bank Leumi among defendants in a scheme to use the record company to launder drug money. The central player in this accusation was Larry Lavin, who was indicted as the “kingpin of a 13-member [drug] ring that allegedly sold $5 million of cocaine a month.” [DAUGHEN, 1984]
By 1978 president Oscar Cohen of the Associate Booking Corporation presided over “the country’s biggest black talent booking agency.” [SHAW, A, p. 419, p. 133] Recurrent, “mobbed-up” Morris Levy even eventually owned Birdland in its heyday, the famous jazz club. [WEXLER, p. 130] Levy also controlled the Roulette Record label. Nat “the Rat” Tarnopol headed the Brunswick label (Jackie Wilson was one of its most prominent African-American stars). Tarnopol was indicted twice in the 1970s “for using payola, drugola, and strong-arm goons to get radio airplay for Brunswick recording artists.” [MCDOUGAL, p. 366]
An early and important supporter of disc jockey Alan Freed and his own empire was Leo Mintz, who owned a large record store near Cleveland’s Black ghetto. Even earlier, Eli Oberstein founded Varsity records in the 1930s, Joe Davis launched Beach records in 1942, and “Jake Friedman had Southland, one of the biggest distributing outfits in the South.” [SHAW, A., Honkers, p. 236] “The whole history of rock ‘n’ roll,” noted the London Guardian in a review of Jewish author Michael Billig’s book about the subject, “has been portrayed as white artists ‘ripping off’ black music. Only now [with Billig’s volume] has the major Jewish contribution been acknowledged.” [ARNOT, C., 10-4-2000, p. 6] Atlanta-based Mark Shimmel, for instance, is the CEO of LaFace Records, which headlines TLC, Usher, Tonik Braxton, GoodiMob, “and a raft of hot hip-hop artists … He built his own company, managing talents as varied as John Denver and Broadway composer Frank Wildhorn … He doesn’t worry much about what he calls ‘the white guy in the black music business.'” He has also worked with Huey Lewis, Harry Belafonte, Ray Charles, and former Eagle Don Henley. [POLLAK, S., 1-7-00]
Joseph Heller, formerly of Heller-Fischel, booked acts like Styx, the Electric Light Orchestra, Boz Scaggs, and a variety of others. “He represented top-drawer rock talent like Van Morrison, the Guess Who, Marvin Gaye, War, Elton John and Pink Floyd.” [SNYDER, N., 2-19-01] Stretching out as dangerously as possible to make a buck, Heller eventually gravitated towards a relative goldmine in the Black ghetto-based “gangsta rap.” He cofounded Ruthless Records and managed the pioneer rap group NWA (Niggaz With Attitude) from early in their careers. The musical genre of gangsta rap, notes Jory Farr, “thrives on misogyny, as well as homophobic and race-baiting rage … [It] was the perfect music for [a] lifestyle loaded down … with warnings of betrayal, murder, revenge, and a short life.” [FARR, p. 70] “I believed that rap would become the most important music of the nineties,” said Heller, “… [But] you can’t sell two million rap records to kids in the inner city. That’s a way to sell 200,000. You have to market it to the white kids.” [FARR, p. 68, 71]
Heller hired Ira Selsky as his corporate attorney and an Israeli-born security chief named Michael Klein to ward off angry, exploited Blacks who quite literally walked into his office threatening to kill him. Rap star Ice Cube even threatened Heller in one of his recorded songs, prompting the Anti-Defamation League to flag it as anti-Semitic. Ruthless Records released a Jewish rap duo called Blood of Abraham. As Chuck D, the lead vocalist for the Black rap group Public Enemy, noted, “There’s no way to get trained on the seamier elements of the music business being on the street — that element is reserved for boardrooms.” [D, CHUCK, p. 85] Those in Chuck D’s reminiscences about “boardroom” behavior include Lyor Cohen (manager of Rush Productions, and an Israeli); Al Teller, an executive at MCA whose parents died in the Holocaust; Steve Ralbovsky of CBS; Bill Adler (a publicist); and Rick Rubin of Def Jam Records. (Jewish diamond dealer Jacob Arabo has made the news as a favored jewelry merchant to the Black rap crowd that seeks to symbolize wealth and power, or, as the New York Times put it, “the jeweler who gives most of today’s leading rappers their shine.” [CENTURY, p. 1]
In 2001, Heller was named the “Godfather of Latin Rap” by the Los Angeles Business Journal; he was joining in attempting to build a rap movement in the Latino market via Hit a Lick records. As the Journal noted:
“If Heller is convinced that Latin rap will emerge as the next big thing, it probably will be, said other music industry veterans … Indeed, Heller is widely acknowledged as one of the key forces behind gangsta rap’s crossover into the music mainstream … While Heller has the second-tier title of chief operating officer, he acknowledges that the other partners ‘generally run everything by me because of my experience and expertise.'” [SNYDER, N., 2-19-01]
By 2001 too, the aforementioned Lyor Cohen had catapulted to power in the Rap world. Rolling Stone even magazine featured an article about him, sub-titled How Lyor Cohen — the White, Jewish Israeli-Raised President of Island Def Jam Records — Became One of the Most Important Men in Hip-Hop, and Why He May Now Become One of the Most Important Men in Rock & Roll.” Cohen started out promoting punk rock acts like the Circle Jerks, Social Distortion, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. He then became president of the rap music label Def Jam in 1988 and soon had become “perhaps the most powerful white executive in an African-American business.” (Def Jam was bought out by the Jewish-owned Polygram company in 1999). Irv Gott, a Black record producer, notes that Cohen is
“a white Jewish guy, but I think everybody respects him like he’s black. He knows how to carry it too. He knows how to get gangster, how to fall back, when to shut the fuck up, whento say something. That’s why other white executives are scared of him. He knows how to deal with the hoods, the criminal element.”
Cohen, continued Rolling Stone, has broadened his musical base and “oversees an empire that includes hundreds of artists performing in dozens of genres, a roster that features PJ Harvey, American Hi-Fi, Shelby Lynne, Lionel Richie, Bon Jovi, Melissa Etheridge, Saliva, Ludacris, Kelly Price and Sisquo.” Cohen’s nickname is “Little Lansky” (after famed Jewish mobster Meyer Lansky). He was born in New York City “where his father, an Israeli, worked in the consulate.” He was later raised on an avocado farm near Tel Aviv. [COHEN, R., 6-21-01]
Cohen has also been active in trying to readjust Black consciousness of Jewish exploitation of the African-American community. “In the late Eighties,” notes reporter Rich Cohen,
“when [Public Enemy’s] album It Takes a Nation of Milions to Hold Us Back was topping the charts, the group’s minister of information, Professor Griff, made several anti-Semitic statements. As a Jewish exec working with the band, Cohen found himself in the middle of a rough, formative experience. ‘When Professor Griff from Public Enemy said what he said, and it caused this whirlwind, the whole industry asked me, ‘What the fuck are you doing?’ says Cohen. ‘Every president of every record company called and said, ‘Drop them: But I believe part of being Jewish is education. And I believe I was instrumental in changing Public Enemy’s views. I said, “Your voice is being muted because you say Jews are this or that. You can’t make blanket statements. If you want your message out there” — and it was profound, I think — “stop generalizing.” And I was the only Jew in their lives. What if I resigned? They would only be more alienated. I hadn’t quite being a Jew. I can’t quit being a Jew. Instead, I tried to have an impact. I felt like I was doing the right thing. Not just as a Jew, as a person. They had a big voice da nation of millions, to quote their album I had the Holocaust Museum [the Simon Wiesenthal Center] shut down, and we had a private tour. The first thing you see is a Jewish skull plus a black person’s skull equals a baboon. The last thing is a monkey with enormous lips dressed with a Star of Daivd holding a trumpet and a sign saying, ‘It’s these Jews that are bringing in this music call jazz.'” [COHEN, R., 6-21-01]
Then there is former tax attorney Joe Weinberger who drives a Jaguar S-200, wears a diamond-studded Rolex watch and “fat gold rings,” and carries a “9mm automatic pistol tucked in his pocket.” As the Miami New Times notes about his rise to power in the African-American rap music world,
“In the early Nineties, Miami’s reigning booty-rapper, Luther Campbell, hired Weinberger away from the carpeted hallways of a swash Brickell Key law firm to help manage a growing musical empire and its attendant lawsuits. Within five years Campbell was bankrupt and Weinberger had purchased the rights to his music. Rather than return to the comfortable confines of his former life, the 42-year old lawyer, who is single and childless, opted to launch his own label, Lil’ Joe … In a post bankruptcy fire sale overseen by Richard Wolfe [Weinberger’s lawyer/partner, also Jewish], Weinberger bought the rights to 2 Live Crew music for about $800,000, plus the outstanding money he claims Campbell owed him.” [KORTEN, T., 8-10-2000]
Weinberger has even been accused of ordering a car bombing and directing death threats against an employee.
Then there is Canada-born Bryan Turner, who founded Priority Records in 1985; he is also Jewish. [JEWHOO, 2000] By 1998, Priority had yearly sales of $250 million. As the Los Angeles Times notes:
“When the pioneering gangster rap group N.W.A. was looking for its first record deal, it found a distributor in Priority Records, which released an album so obscene it prompted a letter of complaint from the F.B.I. When Ice-T left Warner Brothers Records after police groups and the company’s shareholders objected to his song ‘Cop Killer,’ he found a new home at Priority. When Suge Knight, the imprisoned head of Death Row Records, who is known for his pugnacious business tactics, was looking for his first deal, Priority gave it to him. Through all the violence and controversy of hardcore rap music — from its roots in N.W.A to its current resurrection with Master P — the Los Angeles label Priority Records has been a major player.” [STRAUSS, N., 9-3- 98, sec. E, p. 1]
And as the Times noted on another occasion: “When Time Warner first parted ways with rapper Ice-T after the ‘Cop Killer’ flap and then with rapper Paris over a song that portrayed an assassination fantasy of President Bush, Turner wasted little time signing deals with both artists.” [HOCHMAN, S., 7-30-95, CALENDAR, p. 82]
Jewish entrepreneur Steve Rifkind has also become very successful in the rap music field. In 1993, Rifkind founded and still heads Loud Records (its president is Rich Isaacson). Earlier, Rifkind began the Steven Rifkind Company, “a consulting firm specializing in Rap and R&B.” Loud acts include Wu-Tang Clan, Mobb Deep, Yvette Michelle, Funkmaster Flex, Alkaholics, Raekwon, and Xzibit. The company’s value is estimated at about $100 million. [collegemusic.com/1-11-00] “Rifkind,” notes the online magazine Entrepreneur,
“who trademarked the term ‘Street Teams,’ takes marketing to the street — literally — by hiring youths to tell their communities about his artists’ music. ‘My philosophy has always been ‘You can’t stop word-of-mouth, explains Rifkind, who has street teams across cities, distributing free singles to teenagers at housing projects and schools, and scrawling the names of his albums in the dust on parked trucks, which then serve as mobile billboards.” [entrepreneur.com]
Yet another major Jewish rap entrepreneur is the aforementioned Rick Rubin, who, says Jory Farr, found his “biggest stars were former gangsters who used beats and rhymes to glamorize wealth, dope, and violence. Deciding who to sign could be a moral quagmire … but Rubin wasn’t one to be bothered by the trivia of social responsibility.” [FARR, p. 126] “I could do anything I wanted,” Rubin once said about his own family life in New York, “We were always upper middle class. We were wealthy for the community we lived in. In a sense I was spoiled.” [FARR, p. 119]
Rubin’s record company Def American is now called American Recording; at one time Geffen Records distributed Rubin’s material. Earlier in his career he had signed bands like Slayer (whose lyrics exhorted “everything from virgin sacrifice and satanism to sadistic mutilations and the atrocities of Auschwitz” [FARR, p. 109]) and the Geto Boys, who “pushed misogyny and sadism to new depths.” [FARR, p. 108] Rubin’s own star rose so high that he eventually produced albums for Mick Jagger and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Troubles, however, came from a lawsuit against him by Adam Horowitz of the Beastie Boys and threats from the Meir Kahane-founded Jewish Defense League. Outraged by Rubin’s promotion of violently anti-Jewish lyrics by Black ghetto groups, the Jewish group reportedly came looking to beat him up. Rubin couldn’t understand their anger. He told an interviewer that
“They should’ve talked to me and found out what I felt before coming to attack me, because I was a JDO [Jewish Defense Organization] supporter. When I was at NYU I saw [right wing rabbi] Meir Kahane speak and he blew me away — he was amazing … After hearing him speak, I wanted to pack my bags and go to Israel … I called the JDO several times, wanted to join, but they never returned my calls.” [FARR, p. 123]
Among the most controversial “gangsta rap” labels was Death Row Records (including Tupac Shakur, Dr. Dre, and Snoopy Doggy Dog). A noted earlier, Death Row products were distributed by the Jewish-dominated Time-Warner company until “pressure from stockholders after an outcry over the flagrantly violent and misogynist lyrics” of its stars. Time-Warner dropped the label, but eighteen months later it was picked up (for $200 million) by the Universal Music Group, a subsidiary of the Jewish Bronfman family’s Seagram company. Universal too eventually abandoned the controversial label, only after “pressure from stockholders and regulators.” [HELMORE, E., 8-29-97, p. 10]
Still another Jewish push — more recently — into the rap world is Koch Entertainment’s In The Paint record label. Koch, one of the largest “independent music distribution companies,” is headed by founder and CEO Michael Koch and President Bob Frank. [kochentertainment.com]
And lastly for the music scene, the president and CEO of the Recording Industry of America — a lobbying group (with a staff of 72) for the big record companies — is also Jewish, Hilary Rosen, who was described in 1997 by the Washington Post as “a powerful woman in an industry dominated by men. One of the most influential yet least known players in the U.S. entertainment behemoth.” [WEEKS, p. C1] Rosen became the CEO when another executive, Jason Berman, stepped down from the position.
- Delores Tucker, the founder of the National Political Congress of Black Women, has singled out Rosen’s organization for special condemnation:
“In terms of children, the RIAA is the most destructive lobbying force in America. It is incomprehensible that anyone with an ounce of concern for children would be demanding the promotion, distribution, and sale of gangsta-porno rap to children.” [WEEKS, p. C1].