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Future rappers learn career ropes at Jamaica college

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"The music industry is a business of nepotism and favoritism," warned Charles Fisher, former manager of Hollis-bred rapper LL Cool J and founder and chairman of the southeast Queens-based Hip-Hop Summit Youth Council, which wants to use the genre to empower the community. "We're here today to give you an opportunity to learn the game."Fisher gave his advice at an open house at York Jan. 31 to promote the school's Entertainment Business Program, which he coordinates. Through the school's Adult Continuing Education Division, the program offers those seeking a place in the music industry the training and contacts to launch their careers or start their own businesses. Students, who do not have to be enrolled at York, can take courses, priced at $295 each, in audio engineering, video filming and production, public relations and marketing, and starting a record label. After six courses are completed, a certificate is issued. Fisher bills the program as an opportunity to learn the business and make the necessary contacts. While he created it in 2001 and brought it to York in 2003, the recent open house included a major announcement: securing Universal Music Group, the largest conglomerate of record labels in the world, as a partner. The company, which includes Island Def Jam, became the first industry powerhouse to join up."We want to connect everyone here to the music business," Fisher told the crowd of hopefuls, about 100 in all, at the open house. Afterward, he added, "We have access to the movers and the shakers in the entertainment business."While students thinking about entering the program were encouraged to work hard and formulate a plan, speakers at the open house said the reality of the business meant a need to network and watch your back."This business is terrible," said O.J. Wedlaw, national vice president of promotions for Universal Music. "You can't trust anybody."Open house attendees said Fisher's program seemed legitimate."It's good advice," said Hakim Robinson, an audio engineer from Westchester. "They're being real honest about things."Fisher and others in southeast Queens are hoping the program can provide an economic opportunity to the unemployed in the area."This is a very unique way to get a piece of the pie," said City Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans), a sponsor of the program.But while Fisher said he would provide students with a foot in the door, he gave no guarantees."Nobody ain't making no promises," he said.Reach reporter Michael Morton by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.

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