Lunes 1 de Octubre de 2001, Ip nº 5

Eerie image pulled from CD
Por Joanna Glasner

The cover for the upcoming CD from a popular hip-hop group portrays an eerily familiar sight.

Against a backdrop of morning skies, the towers of the World Trade Center stand engulfed in flame from the impact of twin explosions. Clouds of smoke spew from the upper stories, all but obscuring the tip of what was once the epicenter of the New York City skyline.

If it weren't for the super-imposed images of the Oakland, California, hip-hop duo known as The Coup, the scene could pass for a remarkably precise replica of the horrific tragedy that befell New York City on Tuesday morning.

The cover design predates Tuesday's twin attacks on the World Trade Center by months.

And now that reality has in fact imitated art, The Coup's label, 75 Ark, is finding itself in a messy predicament.

"This was done long ago and never meant to be any literal interpretation of an event," said Toni Isabella, label manager for 75 Ark. Luckily, she said, the release date of the CD, entitled Party Music, got pushed back 2 months from early September to November.

In light of Tuesday's tragedy -- and a barrage of e-mails and phone calls regarding the image -- the label is now in the process of choosing a new album cover.

Timing of the original album printing was disturbingly in sync with real-world events.

The printers were set to crank out copies of the fiery World Trade Center image on Tuesday, Isabella said, when the label put in a last-minute call, urging them to stop the presses.

The fictional picture depicted on the cover, it seemed, was a bit too close to the horrific images occupying the television screen.

Isabella said the label hasn't decided on a new cover. They're looking at pictures from an old photo shoot as well as an image based on the group's logo. However, the decision making is particularly difficult due to the fact that 75 Ark has been unable to reach officials with The Coup's publicist, Girlie Action, which is located in lower Manhattan.

The move to switch covers has not been without opposition.

Coup founder Boots Riley said he argued with the label to keep the original design, which a distributor had threatened not to release.

Riley said the cover design, completed in June, was "supposed to be a metaphor for the capitalist state being destroyed through the music."

It should not be interpreted as a call to violence, particularly in light of Tuesday's tragedy, he said.

"My condolences go to the families of the victims and all their friends and anybody affected at all by the catastrophe," Riley said. "But they can't sidestep that the reason this is being censored is a political one, not a sympathetic one. It's not out of respect to the victims."

Riley said he lobbied to keep the cover intact because he wanted people to consider that it is not only foreign terrorists, but the United States as well, that have committed atrocious acts.

Chris Funk, The Coup's manager, said it's most likely that 75 Ark will prevail in its plan to change the cover, however.

"Ultimately, they reserve the right to use whatever cover they want because they're the label," he said.

Adding to the confusion is the fact that the original CD cover had already gone out to members of the press, distributors and others. Before the album's release got pushed back to November, The Coup received reviews in several publications, including print editions of Wired Magazine, Spin and CMJ.

Naturally, many of the reviews came accompanied with pictures of the original CD cover, complete with exploding buildings.

Funk said The Coup, known for lyrics with an edgy, anti-establishment bent, chose the original cover for its powerful imagery.

And, as was the case with The Coup's previous three releases, "Kill My Landlord," "Genocide and Juice" and "Steal This Album," not all harsh statements are meant to be taken at face value.

"We're not saying go out and blow up the buildings," Funk said. "But it's politically charged music."


  13/06/2001. Wired Magazine.


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