Kanye West & MJ

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Not long after a recent post about Kanye West’s latest success in the charts at the expense of rival 50 cent, the Hip Hop star has announced another high profile song release with an upcoming duet along side Michael Jackson.

The announcement has only fuelled further rumours that Michael Jackson himself will be releasing a new solo album in the near future. The single with Kanye West will be his first release since 2001, since the release of invincible.

Kanye West is not the only star to have teamed up wit Michael Jackson in the studio lately, with Will.i.am and Ne-Yo both said to be working with him to create a new sound which will be eagerly anticipated by fans.

A quote from Kanye on the sure to be successful partnership read
“I’m working on stuff for Michael Jackson. If I like a person’s outlet or what a person brings to the table, then I’ll speak to them.”

I really don’t know what to expect from this collaboration, but with the input of Kanye West it will defiantly be worth a listen.

Music Piracy

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It seems that the message that the sharing of music file online is music piracy is still being hammered home in an effort to protect the revenues of the music industry. Music companies have taken increasingly drastic steps in an effort to clamp down on illegal music file sharing, starting with peer to peer software providers all the way through to individuals who share music files ignoring any copyright in place.

Just how much the industry loses to piracy is shady. A recent report put the cost of piracy at $12.5 billion annually to the US economy, whilst many critics instead say that when this figure is broken down as it should be, the entertainment industry loses around $1.6 billion to fake CDs, and another $3.7 billion to illegal downloading.

Whatever the exact figure it is a threat to the industry and the loss in revenue has led the music industry to take action against illegal file sharers. As a result there have been several high profile cases against music sharing sites that offer peer to peer file sharing services, the most famous of which being the Napster case in 2000 that trail blazed the way for legal proceedings brought by the music industry as a collective.

The latest file sharing site to face legal action has been allofmp3.com, in which a Moscow court threw the case out, sending ever more confusing messages to consumers.

Such legal action is not just restricted to peer to peer service providers, individuals have also found themselves amongst high profile judicial proceedings for participating in the sharing of copyrighted music files. These cases simply highlight the consequences that come with music piracy.

A recent case has seen a court in the US order a woman to pay $222,000 (£109,000) in damages for illegally file-sharing music. Jaime Thomas 32, from Minnesota, was ruled to has shared 24 specific songs illegally, costing $9,250 a song. Although the case was focused around the top 24 songs, it was claimed that she shared 1702 songs.

So far there have been around about 26,000 lawsuits filed against alleged file-sharers, but most defendants settle privately by paying damages amounting to a few thousand dollars. It seems contesting the charge has ended up costing this specific file-sharer near a quarter of a million dollars. Interestingly with this particular case, the hard drive of the women in question was not required for a guilty verdict, having been replaced shortly after she had been contacted by the record industry.

But with different messages coming from different areas of the music industry could file sharers be forgiven for stepping into grey areas in the law. For instance Sony’s philosophy means that transferring music from your CD albums onto your MP3 player is a form of piracy, yet (as previously mentioned on The Shelf) Microsoft seems to be heading in a different direction with the upcoming launch of its Zune Social. Microsoft it seems is actually encouraging music downloaders to share their music collection with friends through the wireless feature on the Zune player.

It seems that cases like that of Jaime Thomas send a clear message people abusing peer to peer networks, that the industry will come after with the full extent of the law if you leave yourself exposed and break the law. When the law is and is not being broken in terms of file-sharing however, seems to be an area where the goal posts are shifted depending on the latest stance of different players within the industry.

Kanye vs Fiddy

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After a hectic week in the Hip-Hop world, I am pleased to read that the album Graduation by Kanye West, this week outsold 50 Cent to debut at number one in the album charts. It seems in the run up to the release of each album everybody has had something to say about the head to head, with 50 Cent even stating that if out sold, he would no longer perform as a solo artist. On reason the outcome pleased me so much. :)

Estimates based on sales as early as Wednesday stated that Kanye was outselling his competitor by over 150k copies. There has been a long running feud between the two artists for some time, and this joint album release date has simply thrown any past differences of opinion into the media spotlight

It is a long standing tradition in Hip-Hop that rappers have antagonistic beefs with other artists. The east coast west coast divide has been labelled as a reason for some famous Hip-Hop rivalries in the past, for instance Biggie and TuPac, but that fact is these rivalries are more fabricated to generate record sales than they are based on real life differences.

Used as a promotional tool, the same day release of ‘beefing’ artists is a great way to send loyal fans more promptly to the shelves, and undoubtedly the main winner is not the artist with his self proclaimed bragging rights, but the record labels behind each artist. One thing is for sure, the increased media coverage generated by feuding artists certainly hasn’t slowed record sales for either artist in the past.

The silver lining in the hype generated by the launch of these albums this week, is that Hip-Hop as a genre has been thrust into the limelight, and that can only have a positive impact for fans of the genre.

As a fan of Kanye I was glad to see him have a top selling album, however I’m afraid I didn’t buy into the beef and go running to the shop to buy his album. For those of you interested in what’s up next? A joint release date in November for albums from both Mary J Blige and Mariah Carey. No thanks ta!

Thanks to Maximo

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Being online nearly all day most days I listen to a variety of music over the interwebs that keeps my appetite for new music quelled and my IPod full. As a result I have found that of late I haven’t had the urge to buy any specific music albums and have instead reverted back to the days of comprising my own play lists from individual sounds I have liked.

This is very much a different stance to what I have been used over the past 5 years or so, where I have enjoyed listening to entire albums of artists that I have unearthed. That is however until I heard a song from Maximo Park entitled Books From Boxes off of their album titled Our Earthly Pleasures.

I felt this was a good song, but having not heard much music from Maximo Park in the past, they had a sound I felt was inline with other bands that I like. I eventually got the album and I have to say that it is up there with the best I have heard this year.

It is the first artist album I have found myself lusting after for quite some time, since the Artic Monkeys release of Favourite Worst Nightmare back in April. It seems to have broken the lull of new music artists not appealing to me, and I now have the thirst for several new albums recently (or soon to be) released including Biffy Clyro, Kanye West and Athlete.

Second Chances

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After recently getting a new phone I thought I would comment on how good the new Sony Ericsson W850i actually is.

To prove I am not bias I should mention my previous experience with Sony Ericsson phones. A few years ago I purchased a brand new Sony Ericsson model on a ‘Pay as you Go’ plan for around £150. This phone, (the model escapes me), was indeed an excellent phone for the time, however within a month there were problems.

After continually returning the hand set to the local dealer I was told that it had to be sent away to Sony Ericsson HQ located in France (at the time). Initially this left me without a phone for 4 weeks and then a less than adequate replacement for a further 6 weeks, where by other manufacturer warranty claims were generally investigated within 6 weeks. Justifiably disgruntled, I boycotted Sony Ericsson hand sets until now.

Already pessimistic I ordered the handset on the recommendation of several online reviews and was more than pleased with its performance. The latest in the generation of walkman phones with a 1GB memory makes my previous MP3 player redundant, and the 2 megapixal camera although not the best available, is still a good piece of kit.

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