May 08, 2006

Charles Wright, N.W.A., and Walter Mosley. Out of the Ashes.

Charles Wright and the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band: Express Yourself (Best of)
N.W.A.: Straight Outta Compton (1988)
In physics, they say, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Thankfully, the human world works quite differently.

August 11, 1965. A routine police stop. Drunken driver. African-American. Fast-forward one week. 34 dead, 200 million dollars in damage, a neighborhood torn apart, and a nation asking, Why?"

Charles Wright wrote a song. Not just a song, Express Yourself. Out of the ashes of a burned neighborhood, shattered dreams, racist cops, heavy pessimism, and general hopelessness, Charles Wright found that one sliver of hope. A beat. That primal urge to forget your troubles and shake that ass. However, this was even deeper. The power structure of Los Angeles (to quell themselves), came up with a 25 year plan for the social and economic development of South Central LA. You guess how that turned out. Charles defied that plan; come up with your own plan:

What ever you do, do it good. What ever you do, do it good. All right...
It’s not what you look like, when you’re doin´ what you’re doin´.
It’s what you’re doin´ when you’re doin´ what you look like you’re doin´!
Express Yourself! Express Yourself!

Some people have everything, and other people don’t.
But everything don’t mean a thing if it ain´t the thing you want.
Fast forward 23 years after the beginning of the 25 year plan, and you have yet another clue that that plan was more political maneuvering. NWA. White mothers, lock up your daughters. This wasn't about waiting anymore. You want somethin? Take it. NWA sampled Express Yourself and morphed it into a song of violent protest. The embers of 1965 were still burning.
Walter Mosley, 13 years old at the time of the riots, channeled his thoughts, rage, and feelings through his book, Little Scarlett. Another addition to his classic Easy Rawlins mystery series, set in post riot LA. Read a book.
As a side note, peep this statement from Charles Wright:
“The original, African-based gift of music to America is among this country’s greatest national treasures. However, the legacy of this gift is not being coveted as it should.

The most horrifying aspect of this situation is that the very musicians whom the young artists of today are imitating, sampling and – in the worst case scenarios – diluting, are systematically being phased out with each passing day. Many of them are dying in undeserved poverty and obscurity. Sadder still is that many people don’t even realize or care that this is happening. And the ones who do have some knowledge of the situation don’t have the guts to say or do anything about it. Anyone who cares to delve deeper into this will discover that the further we venture from the truth, the more confused we will become as a people, as a country and, ultimately, as a world."
Wow. I hope Charles is gettin paid.


Blogger BiffReagle said...

interesting stuff on charles wright, been looking for that album too! already had straight outta compton though, perfection in my mind!

10:11 AM  
Blogger Bastet & Corwyn said...

Your blog just keeps getting better! I have the wonderful Charles Wright album on my blog too (320kbps MP3's in case anyone wants a different format).

Vik - contact me if you need a premium Rapidshare account.

Keep up your great work,

11:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

nice post with the charles*t is tight over here!!! keep it up...

4:51 AM  
Blogger J Epstein said...

A teacher who I work with turned me on to "Workin' on the Chain Gang: Shaking Off the Dead Hand of History" and when I askd him what I could do to repay him, said, "Just keep practicing this phrase: 'Amen!'"

If you don't know it [yet] this book of Mosley's would fit right in around here. Best,


12:44 AM  

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