Hip-hop DJs headed to court following Atlanta mix tape bust

by S.A. REID, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Two prominent hip-hop DJ's return to court Wednesday, just over a week after their arrest in a high-profile bust in Atlanta on state racketeering charges connected to alleged music piracy.

Tyree Simmons, known as DJ Drama, and Donald Cannon, who goes by DJ Don Cannon, are scheduled to be in Fulton County Superior Court at 9 a.m. before Judge Richard Hicks.

The court session will provide the first opportunity for prosecutors and defense attorneys to discuss the case and announce how it will proceed.

Simmons and Cannon, whose Jan. 16 arrests sent shock waves through the hip-hop community, are expected to attend.

The DJs, particularly DJ Drama, have become big names in hip-hop for their "mixtapes" — a promotional compilation that could include all or a combination of a remix of a hit, a collaboration between artists, freestyle rhyme or preview selections from an upcoming CD.

Mixtapes, such as DJ Drama's successful "Gangsta Grillz" series, help create buzz and street credibility for rappers.

Authorities accuse the pair of selling illegally recorded music materials, mostly via the Internet. Police also contend the scope, volume and on-going nature of the operation put Simmons, 28, and Cannon, 27, in violation of Georgia's Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.

By law, the name of the license owner of the music must appear on the CD packaging, police said.

Both men face one to five years in prison and fines ranging from $10,000 to $100,000 if convicted.

Simmons and Cannon have been free on $100,000 signature bonds since last Wednesday, a day after Clayton County and Fulton County sheriff's deputies with Morrow police raided their Walker Street warehouse in Atlanta.

Police said they confiscated more than 81,000 illegal CD's, four vehicles, recording equipment and other items. Authorities also have frozen the Simmons' and Cannon's bank accounts.

Their arrests resulted from an investigation that began late last year after Morrow police discovered illegal "mixtape" CDs sold at an outlet in that Clayton County city, then traced their origin to the Walker Street location.

The case is one of the latest in a national crackdown on music piracy the Washington, D.C.-based Recording Industry Association of America is pursuing in attempt to curb the practice it says contributed to the loss of an estimated $1 billion in CD sales in 2005. That year, Atlanta had the third largest number of seized illegal copied CDs in the nation behind New York and Los Angeles.

article originally published at http://www.ajc.com/metro/content/metro/atlanta/stories/2007/01/23/0123metdjs.htm....

The court session will

The court session will provide the first opportunity for prosecutors and defense attorneys to discuss the case and announce how it will proceed.

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