Friday, November 26, 2010

Dept. of Homeland Security Vs. Hip-Hop File-Sharing

How was your Thanksgiving? If you ran sites like or, it probably wasn't so fun. Those guys went to their sites today to find their main pages replaced with:
According to articles like this one on TorrentFreak (I know "TorrentFreaks" doesn't sound like the most reputable name for a source; but they were the first to break the news), the Department of Homeland Security and Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) have both seized control of their domain names. And according to an article on, "DHS and ICE agents raided a Dallas datacenter Tuesday and seized the sites servers." So if that's correct, they're not just taking over domain names, but seizing servers.

As many of you have probably noticed, I'm not a big mp3 kinda guy... This is the first I've heard of these sites, but apparently RapGodFathers alone had 146,500 members. They've publicly defended themselves by telling TorrentFreaks, “We only link to mixtapes, albums in the hiphop/rap genre... Lots of those mixtapes help new artists become much bigger for example Drake, Chamillionaire, Wiz Khalifa. It also gives the users to listen to an album before buying it to judge the quality. Almost 99% of the time if people on RGF liked the album and posted positive comments, that given artist had a big success.”

Now, I'm not even going to get started on the case against mixtapes as a genuine benefit to artists and labels (that's a post for another day). Instead, I'm just going to give you a quick screenshot I took myself browsing their site and say, "stop lyin', RapGodFathers!" You're gonna have to click to enlarge that, but believe me, it's worth it. I only spent like 2 minutes looking at their forums, and there was page after page of this stuff. They came back online later last night at the URL, so they're back up and running, and they've still got this stuff up. I didn't even look at their hip-hop and music sections.

But my point isn't really to call these sites out (I just couldn't let RGF get away with that line of "only link to mixtapes" BS), but just to point out what's going on. According to this video from ICE, this is just the very beginning of a long-term campaign. So if you have a site along the lines of these guys, I'd be worried. Not that it's just hip-hop sites going down. Other stuff, like and also got taken offline (really, were a lot of people going to a site called Come on, guys!). But so far, in the music department, they seem to be solely focused on hip-hop sites.

In that video I mentioned before, he talks about one site that moved to a new domain after they took it down, and said they were going to stay on top of it and go after that one, too. So may not be much longer for this world. And Splash, the guy who runs, has said on Twitter, "I dont even no if imma come back." So yeah, this could be big and long-term. It will be interesting to see if this turns out to be the beginning of a changing landscape online, where mp3 piracy no longer dominates the music industry. Or if this is going to be just another futile drop in the bucket of effort, along with the RIAA lawsuits and the battle against Napster.

Errata 11/26/10: I just updated this blog to remove an erroneous paragraph where I pointed out that dajaz1 posted full rap album downloads. Again, I wasn't familiar with dajaz1 before this incident, so I can't say for certain either way... but everything I found when going through their google caches and links from other sites suggests dajaz1 only posted single mp3s that were being promotionally sent out by the labels specifically to be posted on blogs like his. If he only posted mp3s like that, there is no legit reason why his site should have been seized, and I apologize for saying he offered links to "major rap albums."

Also, an update... another one has bitten the dust., who describe themselves as "the biggest community for black music in world!" [sic.] have just been taken down, too.

Update 12/09/11: is back! According to a new article on CNET, "the government abruptly abandon[ed] the lawsuit." It took them over a year.


  1. "Criminology 2.5" is not a "major rap album" but a single song, and one that was most likely serviced to blogs like Dajaz by either a label or publicist with the sole intent of having it posted on a rap blog.

  2. yeah this is kind of skewed. RapGodFathers definitely bootlegged "major rap albums", as well as mixes and the like. Dajaz1 and Onsmash didn't. I imagine they were grabbed for the posting of a specific song, whatever it was, but they were in no way promoting or posting links to full albums of any kind.

  3. Good call, guys. I searched around for other dajaz1 downloads, and they all seem to be just promo mp3s, too. I'm going to post a correction now!

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  5. RapGodFathers are back, and fuck the haters!