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Jayson Blair’s Publisher a Hip-Hop Architect?

Little did I suspect when I started reading yesterday’s NYT story about the rediscovery of the Incredible Bongo Band that the funk collective would turn out to have been assembled by Michael Viner, best known to the publishing world for cranking out books related to the O.J. Simpson case in the 1990s at Dove Entertainment, for declaring bankruptcy right around the time that Otto Penzler won a multi-million breach of contract suit against New Millennium, after gambling (and losing) on Jayson Blair’s memoir, and, as Jonathan Bing reported last year in Variety, reinventing himself as Phoenix Books. (For a good look at his early career, check out David Streifeld’s 1998 WaPo profile.)

So it turns out that “Apache,” one of the cuts on the band’s 1972 debut Bongo Rock, became a favorite sampling source for rappers from the Sugarhill Gang to Nas. And Viner, who reacquired the rights to the music back in 1990, has been tracking down bootleggers and samplers in an effort to get his cut…a bit of information that no doubt brinks a wry smile to publishing industry observers.

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