It’s not often you hear about a Mickey Mouse-Nation of Islam connection. But Coming Down Like Babylon, the debut recording of Chicago-based rapper Prince Akeem, is being distributed abroad by Disney’s beleaguered Hollywood Records label. (Released two weeks ago, Babylon is being distributed in the U.S. by BMG.) Akeem also happens to be minister of youth for the Muslim organization led by Louis Farrakhan, whose speeches often contain anti-Semitic rhetoric. ”I’m definitely the one who has the minister’s backing — I’m the one who represents the Nation of Islam in the rap world,” says Akeem, 20, whose new video, ”Time to Come Correct,” features a spot by another Nation of Islam member, Public Enemy’s Chuck D.
In addition to Prince Akeem, Hollywood Records spent $25 million last year signing a roster that includes Stryper, a Christian heavy-metal band; The Lifers Group, rappers doing life in prison; and Queen, whose lead singer, Freddie Mercury, was reportedly just hospitalized with an AIDS-related illness. Because Akeem delivers a resolutely clean-living message (he goes so far as to bar the use of eyeshadow or blush by his female video performers), the rapper has been called ”Disney for black people” by one Disney exec. Adds Peter Martin, spokesman for Hollywood Records’ U.K. division, ”Disney is seeing beyond the actual link to Farrakhan and listening to what Akeem has to say. He projects a very positive message.”