An Open Letter to KMEL
by T-K.A.S.H.

There are many ways to bypass KMEL and the local mainstream media monopoly. After reading the article by Jeff Chang in last week’s edition of the BAY GUARDIAN regarding KMEL, Clear Channel communication and the political and economical machine they have created, I was bombarded by so my people who asked me the same question: What will it take for KMEL and Clear Channel to support and give proper exposure to the local artists who need and deserve it? The answer is simple: Create an outlet of exposure that can’t be defined or countered with money or surface fame.In other words, we have to create for ourselves a system of being showcased that is FREE and that goes deeper into our culture than just our music.

Here’s what I mean: Michael Martin [The Program director for KMEL] can’t go to the housing projects and so-called “hotspots” of the Bayview-Hunter’s point area, get out of his car, pass out flyers and get some aspiring artist to put on a free concert where local artists can be showcased. He is not from the same struggle,and has no street credibility as a person unless he plays your music.

Big Von [KMEL DJ] can only go so far with spearheading a local artist renaissance because at the end of the day, he still is employed by the same machine that is the cancer of our generation as artists. We can’t be so dependent and angry at these two or more individuals because they will never give us what we want. We have to get it for ourselves.

The article Jeff wrote was not entirely based on the turmoil that KMEL and Clear Channel has created. A good portion of that was based on what I call The New Movement: The Unification of ALL Bay Area independent and grassroots media outlets . By no means is this the same as KMEL’s movement because it is generated and maintained by the local artists themselves, as opposed to KMEL’s which is generated and maintained by the consumers of the culture and not the culture itself.

For example: At KPFA, I host a local artist hip hop show called The Friday Nite Vibe with Davey D. On the program, I showcase all elements of the artist’s porfolio.I play their music and give them their interview, but I also give them an on- air honest critique, take on-air fan critiques, and before they leave I give them the contact info for other radio shows, video shows , concert promoters, and other local independent and grassroots figures in the Bay Area that can help them.AND I DO IT FOR FREE.

This movement by myself and others has been applied to the local artist renaissance over the past several months and has created a very impactful presence that has KMEL frantically trying to “keep it real” and scrambling to “put it down for the yay” by playing mixes of out dated bay area classics that have nutting to do with where we are as a community today in 2003.

The Friday Nite Vibe showcases all original music from bay area artists past AND present as opposed to KMEL’s outdated mix mush formula and local artists doing vocals over the instrumentals of east coast and dirty south bounce tracks by artists from those regions who already have that same track with their vocals on it being played hourly. In other words, you’ll hear “ Have money Have heart “ by Fully Loaded instead of “Welcome to the Yay” by the same crew but their vocals were laid to the music of “Welcome To Atlanta” by Ludacris and Jermain Dupri. In a nutshell, what I do is give you the authentic version of our culture in the bay and they give you the watered down version that earned them a name ten years ago.

The difference between ‘93 and ‘03 is that we have twice the amount of artists and no outlet as big as KMEL so we created one of our own that has awakened the sleeping giant and has us pressing up flyers on our own, getting city permits to throw our own venues,building a name on line as well as the record stores, and less likely to grovel at KMEL’s feet for exposure.

This movement worked for local artists such as MYSTIC, who was seldom heard on KMEL but always on KPFA,KALX,KZSU,KPOO, almost all local indie and grassroots media outlets and in return gave her a launchpad into mainstream exposure that eventually led her to a Grammy -Nomination.This movement worked for BILLY BAVGATE, who once was a “soldier “ for Master P’s Army, and survived his departure from NO LIMIT records due to the support from myself and other indie figures in the bay.

You might not ever hear these artists in the “CHOP -SHOP” but then again, more and more artists like them are discovering what is the fundamental truth:KMEL may have the biggest fan-base in the bay, but we are the culture that those fans expect KMEL to provide them, and slowly that culture is beginning to lock out KMEL from having access to it. This will force two things to happen: The fans demanding that same culture from KMEL (not request,DEMAND) or the fans bypassing them all together to join our movement.

I know some of you might read this and think that this is my self sabotage letter in regards to giving local artists exposure or my own slot on the air at KMEL.The bottom line is this: What is KMEL going to do? Stop playing our music? The don’t play our music in the first place. Ruin our name on the streets ? We are the streets. Make us lose the game? Take my word for it : THE REAL BAY AREA ARTIST KNOWS THAT GAME VERY WELL AND IS NOT INTERESTED IN PLAYING IT ANYMORE.

Friday Nite Vibe