More details are now surfacing on a recent raid against DJ Drama and his Aphilliates Music Group.
Drama, whose real name is Tyree Simmons, was arrested along with companion DJ Don Cannon under felony racketeering charges. Both were taken into custody and released on $100,000 bond, though a number of assets – including CDs and cars – were seized. Others may have also been charged. The raids followed several weeks of undercover activity, and involved the Sheriff’s Joint Vice Task Force for Clayton County, Georgia, the RIAA, and the Fulton County Sheriff. The investigation followed the discovery of Drama mixtapes at a local retail outlet, a violation of various copyright laws. Now, speculation is focusing on a possible informant, potentially someone close to the Aphilliates camp.
The suspicion is being fueled by the choice of Drama, a well-respected industry figure. Mixtapes sold by Drama often violate copyright laws, though the deejay is mostly regarded as a central and important figure in the promotion of new rap artists, particularly those in the South. Rappers like Young Jeezy, T.I., and Lil’ Wayne have all been propelled by Drama, and the mixtape celebrity often works closely with artists to craft street releases. That raises questions about whether the raid represented the best use of label resources, and various executives were less-than-thrilled by the development. Based on early comments from the RIAA, it appears that the agency did not distinguish Drama from more clear-cut bootlegging cases, which often involve the illegal duplication and sale of full album releases. “Whether it’s a mixtape or a compilation or whatever it’s called, it doesn’t really matter,” said RIAA anti-piracy executive Brad Buckles in comments to MTV News. “If it’s a product that’s violating the law, it becomes a target.”