Lil Uno released his CD, The Streets, on his Sicko Records label. The title track borrows a riff from "Still Water (Love)," the 1970 hit by the Four Tops.
"We had to go through an independent clearance company for the rights," says Lil Uno, who paid a licensing fee of $12,000 for the "Still Water" sample. If he sells more than 84,000 copies of his disc, Lil Uno will pay the licensing company four cents on every record sold thereafter. So far, he says sales figures are in the 18,000 range.
Because Sicko is distributed by Fontana/Universal, "The Streets" is getting radio airplay in 40 markets, including Houston, San Antonio, and Phoenix. One of the San Diego stations that plays "The Streets" is "Blazin' 98.9," the station on which Lil Uno hosts a locals-only hip-hop show every Sunday. Lil Uno says that because he is a DJ on a competing station, Z90 (the other local hip-hop station) won't play his music.
"When 'The Streets' came out, we blasted the song to [Z90 program director] Rick Thomas. He e-mailed us back, saying that Lil Uno took a stand against Z90 and that since he did there was no chance Z90 would support the record."
Thomas did not deny he sent such an e-mail (and Z90 does not play Lil Uno's music), but he did respond via e-mail: "I'm not sure where [Uno's] hate is coming from. I really respect what he does musically."
Local artists such as Lil Al, Young Sicc, and Mitchy Slick get airplay on Z90, but Lil Uno maintains that 98.9 gives more love to local artists. "I play everybody: Cricket, VMS, Steve Vicious, Damu, T-Fresh, and J-Irie. I could give you ten more names."