Does anyone remember when gospel met hip hop or even youth culture generally and tried their holy best to sound palatable? Do you remember the Game Boy beats that were the foundation for this choir sound? No? Well, let’s take a trip back, shall we?:
Let it begin, let Adam in
Step one: original sin
Underneath the leaves, Adam found Eve
Both of them found something sweet under the apple tree
Then it was over, roads divide
Step two: learning how to lie
Let me ask a question to present day
How the hell did Eve end up with all the damn blame?
All the damn blame
Black women are different. Indian women are different. Hispanic women are different. Native American women are different. Palestinian women are different. Muslim women are different. Biracial women are different. The armor is different. The source is complicated. The mode of survival twisted and more confusing with each cultural intrusion.
As I was doing a little writing today, I came across Anderson .Paak’s “Celebrate”:
Time never cares, if you’re there or not there
All you ever needed was a simple plan
But you’re doing well, I mean you’re not dead
So let’s celebrate while we still can
Which led me to this:
And then I fell down a Tiny Desk hole:
These songs remind me of dorm days, MySpace and friends who encircled music and formed bonds with the melodies. They bring back memories of confusion, heartbreak, bright hope and epiphany. They recall a yearning for love, an attempt to learn love.
Your eyes are the windows to heaven,
Your smile could heal a million souls.
Your love completes my existence.
You’re the other half that makes me whole.
You’re the only other half that makes me whole.
~ Amel Larrieux, “Make Me Whole”
Now, they communicate what I can’t, remind me of what I’ve learned and what I now cherish.
We have both been broken
Bent into painful shapes
We almost let those old fears
Carry over and get in our way
But every struggle just makes
Our love get stronger than it was yesterday
~ Amel Larrieux, “No One Else”
I am currently sitting, eyes closed in a hole I created by playing the television show In the Heat of the Night in the background while writing something completely unrelated. It started, as most things do in my life, with the theme song, particularly the part of the song I’m used to hearing at the opening of an episode:
In the heat of the night
I’ve got trouble wall to wall
Oh yes I have
I repeat in the night
Must be an ending to it all
But hold on, it won’t be long
Just you be strong
And it’ll be all right
In the heat of the night
This inevitably led to me to the original film score Quincy Jones composed and Ray Charles’ recording of the same song:
Next, I found myself reading John Ridley’s foreword to the Penguin Classics 50th Anniversary Edition of John Ball’s novel, In the Heat of the Night. In it, Ridley describes the main character Virgil Tibbs as a “black man more carefully constructed than fully realized, an approximation of life designed to thwart a common enemy but to be of no threat to its originator.” My curiosity has been inflamed, to say the least. Now I want to know more. How did this book lead to an Oscar-winning movie starring Sidney Poitier and a television series that was certainly a familiar presence in my home? Maybe reading the book will offer some insight. I don’t know. For now I’m still in the hole, digging deeper.
Sip fancy coffees; Step over body outside he door.
Him fancy condo; He she call PO PO, me sing too loud.
I keep on knockin’. I keep on knockin’, but I can’t get in.
~ Fantastic Negrito, “Working Poor”
Control. Passion. Musicianship. Power. RIP Aretha Franklin.