Interview: Southerngold DJ Terry Urban Responds to Downtown Records' Santigold Cease and Desist
"I'm not trying to burn bridges. I did the mixtape because I absolutely adore Santi."
Southerngold, the ace Santigold/Southern rap remix record that sprang loose on the internet last week, has caused its creator, Brooklyn DJ Terry Urban, no end of trouble. Last Monday, as Urban was on the verge of releasing the mix, he was served with a cease and desist order from Downtown Records, Santigold's label. The tape leaked anyway, of course, and predictably ignited a storm of internet controversy, especially once it was pointed out in certain quarters that Downtown was also the home of Gnarls Barkley, one half of which was responsible for the Grey Album, probably the most famous pirated bit of music of all time.
Eventually, Santigold released a public statement, claiming ignorance, and vowed to get to bottom of things, a promise belied by the fact that, a week later, Urban says he's heard nothing further from either her or her label. We called Urban to catch up on the state of his legal troubles, his original intentions--Southerngold was originally intended to be Justice remix record called Southern Justice, it turns out--and eternal font of humor that is Rick Ross.
The news as of last Thursday was that Santigold had vowed to "get to the bottom" of the cease and desist her label sent you. Has she reached out?
No (laughs). I don't think so. I had my people contact her people and there was no contact from Santi. I think she's on tour right now [ed: she did in fact play Terminal 5 last night]. So as far as I know she might have got the e-mail, she might have not got the e-mail, I don't know. So I haven't heard anything back from Santi.
Well, she did issue a statement.
Yeah, I mean--Who got that statement? You know what I mean? I don't know if it's confirmed, you know? I don't even know if she knows (laughs). My understanding is this is what happened: I got a e-mail--I got a MySpace e-mail--from this random kid from, like, Purdue College or something like that. And he was like, "Hey I hit up Santi, here's the e-mail" I left. And it was this horrendous e-mail to Santigold saying, "How could you do this? You're scum just like the lawyers." The e-mail was just out of control--total fan saying something to his idol. Then I guess Santi wrote back saying, "Hey slow down I don't know what you're talking about, I'll see what's going on." So maybe that's where the e-mail came from as far as a statement?
Probably the important thing is that she didn't send it to you. So you're still basically operating outside the bounds of the law.
Well, the thing is that I didn't release the mixtape. One of my friends had the mixtape and somehow it got leaked through the internet. I mean, it was bound to happen anyway, but I didn't release the mixtape. I was still shaking in my boots at the whole cease and desist. Because I didn't want to screw Santi over, and I didn't want to screw with Downtown Records. 'Cause I love everybody on the label: Justice, Mos Def, Santi, Amanda Blank--I love all them. I'm not trying to have a short buzz career. I'm trying to have longevity in the music business. I'm not trying to burn bridges. I did the mixtape because I absolutely adore Santi, and I love all the people on that label. So when I heard of the cease and desist two minutes before I was about to release the mixtape, I was like, "Oh shit this was not what I wanted." But obviously it is what I wanted, because the press is going insane (laughs).
Well, Downtown has Gnarls Barkley on it, and one of them--Danger Mouse--released basically the most famous copyright-violating mix, ever.
Right, The Grey Album.