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JACKSON ATTACKS SONY

King of Pop Claims Racist Conspiracy in Dispute With Record Company

Self-proclaimed King of Pop Michael Jackson charged Saturday that the recording industry was a racist conspiracy that turns profits at the expense of performers. He is particularly ticked off at his own label, Sony Music, and its chief, Thomas D. Mottola.

``The recording companies really, really do conspire against the artists—they steal, they cheat, they do everything they can,'' Jackson said in a public appearance on Saturday. ``(Especially) against the black artists.''

Over the weekend, Jackson spoke at the Rev. Al Sharpton's National Action Network in Harlem. Sharpton and attorney Johnnie Cochran Jr. recently formed a coalition to investigate whether artists are being financially exploited by record labels.

Jackson singled out Sony Chairman Mottola, saying he was ``mean, he's a racist, and he's very, very, very devilish.'' Jackson also accused Mottola of using ``the n-word'' when speaking about an unidentified black Sony artist.

Sony Music issued a statement calling Jackson's comments ``ludicrous, spiteful and hurtful. It seems particularly bizarre that he has chosen to launch an unwarranted and ugly attack on an executive who has championed his career ... for many, many years.''

At issue is the success, or lack there of, of Jackson’s last album, Invincible, which had disappointing sales despite an estimated $25 million in promotion. The singer's fans say Sony didn't do enough to launch the album. Others in the industry say sagging sales were indicative of Jackson's declining appeal.

Jackson mentioned several black artists as victims of the industry, including James Brown, Mariah Carey and Sammy Davis Jr. Jackson alleged that Davis died penniless, although Davis' attorney said in 1990 that the ``Rat Pack'' member left an estate worth more than $6 million when he died.

``If you fight for me, you're fighting for all black people, dead and alive,'' Jackson said, adding: ``We have to put a stop to this incredible injustice.''

Jackson launched an impromptu parade past Sony’s offices Saturday. About 150 fans gathered, hoisting signs reading ``Please Sony, stop killing the music,'' ``Terminate Tommy Mottola,'' and ``Invincible is Unbreakable.''

Jackson arrived at the Midtown building on a double-decker city tour bus that twice circled the block. He stood in the open top deck and, raising his fists, joined the crowd in chanting ``Down with Tommy Mottola!''

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