Kane & Abel LP Mirrors Duo's Legal Woes

Rapping twin brothers face federal drug conspiracy charges in New Orleans.

At a time when rapping brothers Kane & Abel face federal drug conspiracy charges, their third album, Rise to Power, is uncomfortably close to the reality of their situation — the LP released last month is a fierce, fictional account of partying, inner-city violence and drug dealing.

"Our records are a good avenue to express where we're from," Kane said in New York last week. "It's real sad in the 'hood right now. There's nobody in high school that can say they don't know someone who got killed."

Kane & Abel (born David and Daniel Garcia, respectively), 22-year-old identical twins from New Orleans, were arrested in May in their hometown and face charges of conspiring to distribute cocaine with a convicted drug dealer named Richard Pena. Their trial is scheduled to begin Nov. 15 but likely will be continued until early next year, according to defense attorney Richard Westling.

The brothers unsuccessfully tried to have the case dismissed by arguing that their arrest came after they refused to give federal agents information to use against Master P, the rapper and chief executive officer of No Limit Records, the duo's former label.

"You have a lot of young, black entrepreneurs making millions and millions of dollars legitimately," Abel said, speaking from New Orleans in late August. "A lot of the powers that be can't accept the fact that these young black men with gold teeth, rapping about these kind of things, are actually running legitimate businesses" (RealAudio excerpt of interview).

"People take shots at you," Kane said. "You have to keep your head on straight."

Prosecutors in New Orleans have maintained that the Garcias distributed cocaine on behalf of Pena, now serving a life sentence in federal prison.

Rise to Power, stocked with bouncy, machine-gun rhythms and casual rhymes, debuted at #66 last month on the Billboard 200 albums chart. This week, it is at #99.

The brothers recorded the 21-cut album in less than three weeks during the summer after leaving No Limit to begin Most Wanted Records. Selections range from the horror-movie organ sound of "Rise to Power (Illegal Business)" (RealAudio excerpt), to the frantic raps and lyrical rage of "Straight Thuggin' " (RealAudio excerpt) to the minimal drumbeat of the battle rap "Get Cha Mind Right" (RealAudio excerpt).

Strewn throughout the album are gangster characters with names such as Tony Manteca and songs about criminal life with titles that include "Hydroponix" and "State's Evidence."

The two rappers also write crime novels. One, called "Eyes of a Killer," centers on a young man who moves from New York to New Orleans to escape a life of crime, only to be drawn into the city's drug world. The Garcias were born in the Bronx, N.Y., and moved to New Orleans as teenagers.

While the line between the brothers' real lives and their fiction may be blurred, the Garcias took steps to ensure no one confused the events depicted on their album with their actual experiences. As a result, Rise to Power begins with an audio version of a parental advisory.

"Lyrics and statements made by Kane and Abel are intended for entertainment purposes only and do not necessarily reflect the personal views or experiences of David and Daniel Garcia," a woman recites.

"We feel a lot of people ... are beginning to use rap music [as] a scapegoat for what they're not doing in their neighborhoods and for what families aren't doing in their homes," Abel said (RealAudio excerpt of interview).

Kane said the duo frequently receive criticism about the profanity and drug references in their music. One critic, Barbara Wyatt, the executive director of the Parents' Music Resource Center, said she was at least pleased the brothers put a parental advisory at the beginning of the recording, as well as one in print on the CD packaging.

"That's the first I've ever heard of it," she said. "So that's a good thing. It would be nice if they could choose more positive messages [in their music], but at least they're alerting people."

(The PMRC, an information clearinghouse and lobbying organization, became famous in 1985 after convincing the U.S. Senate to hold hearings on popular music lyrics, hearings that attracted such witnesses as the late Frank Zappa and Twisted Sister's Dee Snider.)