Are the Feds Investigating the Rap/Hip Hop Industry?

This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," Mar. 9, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: Our top story tonight. "Newsweek" magazine is reporting there's a federal investigation underway, focusing on the rap/hip hop industry.

For years, we've been telling you that gangster rap is hurting some children because it glorifies criminal behavior. Now criminal behavior is being looked at by the feds.

With us, Johnnie Roberts, the reporter for "Newsweek" who's looking into the matter himself.

All right, so you're basically talking — the feds won't talk to you.


O'REILLY: They won't talk to us.


O'REILLY: The feds never talk to anybody. You know, that's great. A little hint would be nice. But you're talking to people who the feds have interviewed, who they're questioning?


O'REILLY: And what kind of a picture are you getting?

ROBERTS: Well, that it's a broad-based inquiry, that they're looking into crimes that have already occurred. As you well know, there are a number of unsolved murders. They're looking at the inflow of money and the outflow of money. They're looking at the entourages around some of these artists. They want to know who these people are...

O'REILLY: So it's a wide range, but you know, here's the interesting part, Mr. Roberts. The feds usually don't get involved with local murders. That's a local jurisdiction. Narcotics cases, unless they're heavyweight across lines, they usually don't get involved with.

It sounds to me like it my be a Rico [law]situation, where they might indict rap artists and even labels for dealing in constant criminal behavior, alongside putting their records out.

ROBERTS: I have no idea what the outcome of the investigation is or whether it is a Rico. It very well could be a Rico.

O'REILLY: That would be huge.

ROBERTS: It would be huge...

O'REILLY: That'd be huge.

ROBERTS: ...if that's what it is. But they clearly are concerned about the violence that has left hip-hop music bloodstained for a long, long time.

O'REILLY: Yes, I mean we - right Tupac Shakur (search) is dead. Biggie Smalls (search) is dead. Well, he died of natural death, didn't he?

ROBERTS: Who's this?

O'REILLY: Biggie Smalls?

ROBERTS: No, Biggie Smalls is — remains an unsolved murder as well.

O'REILLY: An unsolved murder. OK, and a bunch of — a guy was shot last week here in New York at a radio station. 50 Cent (search) had a dispute with one of his proteges.

But again, all of those are local crimes. And I'm getting the feeling, based upon your reporting, and you did a nice job on this because nobody else has it but you, I'm getting the feeling that there's a criminal enterprise alongside the legitimate enterprise. You see what I'm talking about, that some of these rap/hip hop artists may be selling narcotics alongside making records. And that's why the feds are getting in.

ROBERTS: Well, I certainly haven't seen any evidence of rap artists selling drugs. There clearly have been allegations that labels have been started with...

O'REILLY: Drug money.

ROBERTS: ...the proceeds of drug sales.

O'REILLY: There you go.

ROBERTS: But not that there are any artists who are actively selling drugs. Mind you, if these artists...

O'REILLY: In the entourage.

ROBERTS: Or it could be. Very well could be.

O'REILLY: Yes, I mean, I don't think 50 Cent and Ludacris (search) have to sell narcotics at this point. But the entourage, if they're involved in it and if they're using the offices of the label to make their transactions, what if they're in the offices and they're making the deals on the phone? That's where the feds would come in.

ROBERTS: I, again, Bill, I have no specific information.

O'REILLY: All right, I know, I know.

ROBERTS: What they are specifically looking at.

O'REILLY: I hypothesize.

ROBERTS: It very well could well be that. I don't know.

O'REILLY: It's got to be something along those lines.

ROBERTS: I do know — what we do know is that a number of rappers are on record that their prior careers involve drug dealing.

O'REILLY: Yes, we know that. 50 Cent for crack...

ROBERTS: We know that.

O'REILLY: Right.

ROBERTS: Whether they or members of their entourages continue to do that, I'm just not in a position to say.

O'REILLY: OK. OK, now...

ROBERTS: But they clearly are looking at the inflow and the outflow of the money.

O'REILLY: Of the money, of the money.

This is a dirty world. I've been saying this. And I got just crucified by the press. This rap/hip- hop world, gangster rap, is a dirty world. Is it not?

ROBERTS: I would beg to differ with you only to this extent. It's a big, big business. Clearly, and I would argue that a large majority of the artists in this business are legitimate artists, that they've grown up wanting to be...

O'REILLY: It's just a small portion, this?

ROBERTS: Yes, I mean, I would say that you could probably find a small portion of bad apples anywhere you go.

O'REILLY: Yes, you really believe that?

ROBERTS: So I just want to be careful that an entire industry isn't dirty. Clearly, whatever portion of it is dirty is very bad, because you have murders going on.

O'REILLY: Yes, a lot of violence.

ROBERTS: You have a lot of bloodstain on these things...

O'REILLY: I don't know any other show business industry, you know, movies, where people getting shot every three minutes. I don't know that. But anyway, keep us posted on this, because I think it could be huge.

ROBERTS: Certainly.

O'REILLY: I'd like to see some of those white guys who run the labels making all the money off this terrible stuff.

ROBERTS: Well, I think some of the focus will...


ROBERTS: on the parent companies, in other words.

O'REILLY: Yes. OK, Mr. Roberts, thanks very much.


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