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Indie Bands Sue Camel, Rolling Stone Over Ad

The messy saga we've lovingly dubbed Camelstonegate took a fairly expected turn this week as Xiu Xiu and Fucked Up filed a class action lawsuit against Camel cigarettes' parent company R.J. Reynolds Tobacco, Rolling Stone, and the magazine's parent company, Wenner Media, according to a Daily Swarm report.

The suit-- filed December 17 on behalf of 186 artists whose names appeared in Rolling Stone's "Indie Rock Universe" feature, tucked conspicuously within a fold-out advertisement for Camel's indie-friendly "The Farm" campaign in the magazine's November 15 issue-- accuses the defending parties of "unauthorized use of artists' names; unauthorized use of artist names for commercial advantage (right of publicity); and unfair business practices."

Xiu Xiu and Fucked Up essentially claim that Rolling Stone created and presented their feature with full knowledge that it would appear part and parcel with the Camel ad. The plaintiffs ask that the magazine print a follow-up feature equal in size to the original clarifying that artists' names were used without consent. They're also seeking financial recompense for damages: Rolling Stone alone, the Daily Swarm suggests, could be forced to pony up as much as $195.3 billion if found guilty.

While this marks the first time Rolling Stone has found itself the subject of legal action following the ad scandal, nine states' Attorneys General have already filed lawsuits against Camel for using cartoons to sell tobacco products.

As previously reported, a number of indie labels are seeking an apology from Rolling Stone as well.

Photos: Wu-Tang Clan [Chicago, IL; 12/15/07]

Words by Paul Thompson. Photos by Matt Taplinger

No RZA! Nothing from 8 Diagrams! As Ghostface and Raekwon took the stage Saturday night at Chicago's Metro to the strains of "Wu-Tang Clan Ain't Nuthin Ta F' Wit", the leaders of the potential secession from the ranks of their ramshackle crew made two things pretty clear: the Wu-Tang Clan we'd all been fucking with for a decade and a half were in the building, and that weird new "hip-hop hippie" shit had no place on that stage.

You'd think an 8 Diagrams nut like myself would balk, but nah. With the emphasis on back catalog bangers and temporarily sans their (arguably) weakest lyrical link, the Wu completely destroyed the crowd who'd battled a snowstorm and sorta ridiculous ticket prices for a night with rhyming heroes. Once the initial disappointment from the lack of RZA wore off, it became clear that the Wu, however fragmented, was ready to do this.

Following the undeniable opener, the Wu swung their swords deftly through several dozen tracks, mixing classic posse cuts with gems from solo albums. Of the solo tracks, Method Man's ("Bring the Pain", "What the Blood Clot") went over the best, due largely to the fact that Meth was at least twice as live as everyone else onstage. A cool and unassuming GZA held down the back of the stage most of the time, eyeing the proceedings cautiously and exuding the same sage wisdom when blazing through "Duel of the Iron Mic" as he did hanging back and occasionally whispering in U-God's ear.

It was clear that everyone-- not just you and I-- reserve their greatest respect for GZA, Ghost and Raekwon out of the entire Clan, and every time one of them took the spotlight, the dozen-plus folks onstage were well-versed in every word. Inspectah Deck stalked the stage, looking for any spot to interject some of his trademark gangly weirdness. "We like the Isley Brothers, ya heard?," he added at one point. Sure.

Every song you'd imagine to be a highlight was, even in their oft-truncated live forms. In fact, there was almost too much music going on. I'd wager nearly 50 tracks were touched on in one form or another, and when U-God reminded us that there were "too many fly-ass rappers onstage," well, he might've had a point. Watching those guys storm a stage, climb on the hands of fans, drink cheap white wine straight from the bottle (in Cappadonna's case) , inspire weeded-up white dudes to yell silly things like "Shaolin's finest!" at you, and, oh yeah, spit some nasty shit for the better part of two hours is a lot to take in. I went to the john just before "Triumph", and when I returned halfway through Ghost's still-fierce verse, the whole crowd felt like they could use a break, too. As it is with 8 Diagrams, the Wu offered perhaps a bit too much to absorb in a single sitting, and when they announced to the ladies where they'd be staying for the night (the show was 21 and over, in case you, uh, think that's a skeezy gesture) , folks seemed almost relieved to file out into the sloppy Chicago snow. That is, once Meth slapped the hands of every single person in the first five rows, grinning from ear to ear as he had all night.

Yeah, so this rumored intra-Wu rift has got to go. (Hey, Ghost and Rae, if you don't like RZA's new beats, maybe you should stop being so awesome over them?) The only real acknowledgement of 8 Diagrams' existence was them asking a dozen or so times whether we'd copped it-- a disservice to a truly beautiful and bizarre piece of work. And, sure, "Life Changes" from the new record still seems like it would be a better eulogy for their fallen brother Ol' Dirty Bastard than that song of his about liking it raw. But most of the Wu was there Saturday night with murdering game on their minds, and, squabbles aside, we in attendance were sufficiently slayed.



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