Friday, December 29, 2006

Random thought On Current Events

Random Thoughts On Current Events

“Say it loud, I’m Black and I’m proud.” - James Brown

On December 25, 2006 the legendary entertainer, entrepreneur and cultural icon James Brown made his transition into the spiritual realm. Brown led a whirlwind life rising from poverty and obscurity to become one of the most influential musicians, performers and innovators in modern music history. Brown, through hard work, perseverance and using a keen insight into showmanship distinguished himself from a plethora of very talented peers such as Little Richard, Ike Turner, Jackie Wilson and Fats Domino. Brown over his long career experienced the highs and lows, successes and frustrations the AmeriKKKan entertainment industry specializes in, amassing and losing a series of fortunes but he always rose from the ashes to reinvent himself and be more influential than he was before.
Brown was always a well liked dynamic performer; in 1968 Brown released a single entitled Say It Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud which received massive radio air play on black oriented radio stations (something that probably wouldn’t happen today) and it became the anthem for black grass roots racial pride and militancy. Brown lent his name and talent to help fund the bourgeoning urban civil rights struggle. Even before he recorded and released that song, Brown appeared on and headlined on Georgie Woods (a popular Philly DJ and the vice president of the local NAACP) all star Freedom Show in 1965. Woods used the proceeds generated from the show to support the direct action programs, demonstrations (which required bail money) and boycotts the Philadelphia NAACP, which was much more militant than the national NAACP, initiated. Later Brown was a prominent figure helping to quell the anger and frustration blacks felt when Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated. The white ruling elites observed Brown’s influence and used him to help restore order. They even recruited Brown to help give the white bread Republican president Richard Nixon a veneer of credibility with blacks.
Brown lived large and actually perchased three AM radio stations at a time when the medium was shifting from AM to FM because the FM signal was clearer with less static. Nevertheless Brown became a hero in the African-American community because of his phenomenal music and his entrepreneurship even though he subsequently lost the radio stations due to his debt and tax problems. However, changes in the music industry, economics and other forces motivated Brown to alter his style especially after many of his band members defected in the late ‘60's. Brown took innovative new musicians like Fred Wesley and the Collins brothers; Catfish and Bootsy into his band and didn’t miss a beat. These musicians helped Brown revolutionize music, elevating funk to a household word. The rest as they say is history. Brown and George Clinton who also employed Bootsy Collins in his Parliament Funkadelic bands became icons of funk and now they are the two most sampled artists the Hip Hopers use to funk up their recordings.
As Africans in AmeriKKKa pay respects to the mane who called himself “the hardest working man in show business” and the “Godfather of Soul” let us also look at his influence as an artist, performer and social icon. Say It Loud I’m Black and I’m Proud was the first of many consciousness raising message songs recorded by Brown. Songs like: Money Won’t Change You But Time Will Take You Out, How You Gonna To Get Respect You Haven’t Cut Your Process Yet? Talkin Loud and Saying Nothing, I Don’t Want Nobody To Give Me Nothin Open Up The Door, I’ll get It Myself , It’s A New Day, Don’t Be a Dropout are a testament to what art can do to ignite, energize and inspire a people. James Brown, Cutis Mayfield and later Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff led the charge to program and saturate our people with positive racially uplifting messages. Our enemies saw what these artists and music were doing to energize the Black is Beautiful and Black Power movements. The record company executives at the behest of the ruling elites (many are one and the same) moved to undermine this positive influence; just as they would do a generation later when they moved to suppress the influence of conscious Hip Hop artists like Public Enemy, KRS-One and Paris attempting to eclipse conscious artists like them by using decadent, retrograde, socio-pathic performers/groups like NWA and 2Live Crew.
This is a critical lesson we must learn as we Bring Back Black! We must recognize the power of art and promote artists who are affirming Africaness, black power and higher consciousness. I do a music program on the Internet on the Blake Radio Network’s Music Massage Channel called Message In The Music. I play conscious artists from Gamble and Huff’s Philly International stable, Gil Scott Heron, Curtis Mayfield, Nina Simone, Public Enemy, Immortal Technique, Tracy Chapman, Sounds of Blackness, Stevie Wonder, India Arie and others. What we do at conscious Internet radio stations like Blake, LIBradio and is play music that has a message that reaffirms African genius, beauty and power and promotes our need for ongoing struggle for liberation. As James Brown’s moral remains are laid to rest, let us keep his spirit alive by encouraging, resurrecting and promoting artists who have the vision, talent, courage, perseverance and resilience of James Brown. Let us bring black back by replicating what James Brown did when he recorded, released and performed Say It Loud I’m Black and I’m Proud.



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