Most people are familiar with the sad state of affairs that the Beatles' catalog is not available on iTunes, but there's another missing swath of music from the store: a lot of early hip hop. Hip hop historian Jeff Chang and Guardian journalist Angus Batey posted a great email
exchange in which they discuss the reasons that old hip hop is being left out of the digital music transition.

Jeff: I find it infuriating that right now it is impossible to find De La Soul's first 6 albums for legal download on iTunes in the U.S. The last one came out in 2001! Yet major labels would never let a Jackson Browne album or an obscure new wave band with primarily local appeal, like Translator, go out of print. That's not to diss Jackson Browne or Translator, both of whom I've liked, it's to make the provocative argument that major labels place a low value on Black music not currently on the pop charts.

Angus: Why, do you think, hip hop history has been so neglected by the same music business institutions that are so very alive to the commercial up-side of exploiting their catalogues in other genres?


Jeff: What we are left with is not quite a racist conspiracy. But the accumulated devaluing of Black music works like institutional racism-all of the little things add up to a vast and widening hole in the American memory about the cultural legacy of Black artists.

Read the full story at Why You Can't Get Early De La Soul on iTunes.

Via Geeta Dayal