Today is James Brown’s Bday: Did Your Local Hip Hop Station Remember Him?

Today is May 3rd and for many of us this date holds no real meaning except that it either signifies another payday or the start of Cinco de Mayo weekend (Cinco de Mayo is May 5th). Sadly, there are many of us who are knee-deep in Hip Hop culture who have never took notice when May 3rd rolled around, but perhaps we should. After all, it was on this day back in 1933 in Barnwell, South Carolina that Hip Hop’s true Godfather was born.

Like so many within Hip Hop he had a harsh childhood. Before he was even 5 years old, Hip Hop’s ‘true Godfather was shipped off to Augusta, Georgia where he lived in a brothel owned by his Aunt. As a child he earned his keep by running errands and trying to solicit soldiers from the nearby base to visit his Aunt’s establishment. Like so many who came after him, the hardships and him needing to hustle led to a life of crime. He eventually had to serve jail time until he finally got himself together. It was that humble and troubled upbringing that sparked a fire and laid down the ethos of Hip Hop-to create something out of nothing.

No, I’m not talking about is not Kool Herc, Afrika Bambaataa, Grandmaster Flash or any of the other often named pioneering cats. However, if you sit any of them down in a room, they will tell unequivocally that they are children and grandchildren to this individual who wound up being Hip Hop’s original driving force and musical inspiration. His music, vocal delivery and showmanship would influence everyone from Chuck D of Public Enemy to MC Hammer.

One has to understand that back in the days when Hip Hop was first evolving in the 1970s Hip Hop’s pioneering figures routinely paid tribute to the musical offerings of this individual. While Black radio stations moved in a direction that embraced formalized disco, the musical landscape of the early Hip Hop Park Jams was juxtaposed. Classic songs like ‘Soul Power‘, Pass The Peas‘, Funky Drummer‘ and ‘Get Up, Get Into It, and Get Involved‘ would blare through the sound systems of Hip Hop’s early deejays and drive the early b-boys and b-girls to the edge. In later years many would point to this individual’s signature dance ‘the Good Foot‘ and his song ‘Get On the Good Foot‘ as the inspiration for what we now call ‘break dancing’.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4DAfBZbz3tI

For those who don’t know who I’m talking about; it’s the ‘Hardest Working Man in Show Business‘. I’m talking about ‘Mr. Dynamite’ himself-Soul Brother #1- James Brown and today-May 3rd is his birthday. There are more than a few good reasons to celebrate. Let’s just say for starters that no individual has been sampled more times than James Brown. To date his music al treasure chest has been sampled by more than a thousand artists. To see a partial list of all the songs that contain James Brown samples go to http://www.xampled.com/blog/sampled-from/james-brown/

Peep this insightful incredible interview w/ James Brown from Detroit’s Black Journal

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y-_8oRFB-9c

Professor Rick Vincent-

History of Funk‘ author and KPFA Radio host Professor Ricky ‘The Uhuru Maggot’ Vincent notes that James Brown is perhaps the most important individual in modern music who has done more to change the structure of Black music than any other person in history. Vincent explained that in many respects James Brown ‘Africanized’ Black music by changing the rhythm, the structure and the manner in which soul/Black music was played.

Vincent elaborated by noting that prior to James Brown, much of Black music was based in the Blues tradition which derived from the slave experience and the fact that we were not allowed to play the drum. Much of our music had a melancholy feel that was sometimes accompanied by polyrhythmic swings. This ‘swing’ aspect is clearly defined in traditional music forms of Black music like Spirituals, Ragtime, Bebop, Jazz and early Rock-N-Roll which was called Race Music. According to Vincent, this polyrhythmic swing aspect was essentially our collective attempts to recreate the drum

When James Brown entered the scene all that changed. He delivered the drum front and center. Vincent noted that James Brown brought out a more prominent rhythmic foundation for the music and introduced the important concept of ‘Hitting on the One’. James Brown focused his entire band including the complex horn, rhythm guitar and keyboard arrangements of his band mate Fred Wesley, Pee Wee Ellis and Nat Jones to ‘deliver on the one’. James Brown punctuated his efforts by using his voice with his vintage grunts, groans and screams as a binding force which also drew everything ‘on the one’. It seems so simple and commonplace today, but back then it was ground breaking.

Vincent who eloquently breaks this whole thing down in book ‘The History of Funk’ went on to add, that prior to James Brown most American music built upon the Blues tradition. After James Brown, American music built upon the tradition of the Funk concept of ‘Hitting on the one’. Everything from ‘disco’ to ‘modern rock’ to Hip Hop has built upon that concept introduced by James Brown. In later years the West Coast Hip Hoppers would build around the music of Parliament and George Clinton who themselves were directly influenced and inspired by the ‘Hit it on the One’ concept of James Brown.

What’s even more interesting about James Brown was the fact that early Hip Hoppers kept his name in circulation and his music ‘in the mix’ at a time when many in the music industry seemed to move beyond him. Vincent explained that in the 60s James Brown for the most part had become a pop star who was delivering hit after hit. [The only person to have more number one records then James Brown was Elvis Presley]. He suddenly found himself out of favor on the pop side of town after he delivered his anthem ‘Say It Loud I’m Black and I’m Proud’. Songs which came after like ‘The Big Payback’ which was his most successful venture came after further pushed him away. He had simply become two Black for pop radio.

By the early to mid 70s Black radio at least in New York City had stopped playing James Brown despite the fact that he was recording 2-3 albums a year. That’s at a higher pace then 2Pac and that’s not counting the additional recordings he delivered with members of the James Brown family which included artists like Lynn Collins, Marva Whitney, Bobby Byrd, Maceo, Fred Weasly and the JBs, and Martha High. Brown’s relentless drive positioned him to be a major force in music during the 70s and while he did drop a couple of big hits he wasn’t the mainstay artist like those who came after him and built upon his concepts.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1N5jY00z_Sk

Vincent noted, the problem that James Brown was running into was the fact that many of the artists who came after him retooled their overall sound to be smoother and more mellow. In the early 70s artists like Curtis Mayfield, Eddie Kendrick, Marvin Gaye and Teddy Pendergrass ruled the airwaves with their message type songs over melodic beats. For the most part James Brown remained raw and gritty and very street.

By the mid 70s to late 70s disco began to take hold and displaced the sounds delivered by many of the aforementioned soulful artists. At one point James Brown tried to shake things up and boost sagging record sales by releasing an album called ‘The Original Disco Man‘ which contained a song called ‘Too Funky‘. Sadly, the album never ‘moved the crowd’ and wound up flopping.

James Brown & Afrika Bambaataa

So while James struggled to get a foot hold within the changing discotized music industry, in the parks and on the early Hip Hop sets of the Bronx, James Brown was king. You could not go to a jam and not hear James Brown. And soon as one of his jams hit the turn tables the place would go wild. His raw gritty street style sound was embraced whole heartedly by the Hip Hop community who rode with him full throttle all the way up until the late 80s. By then James Brown had hooked up with a number of rap artists including Afrika Bambaataa, Full Force and MC Hammer to record songs.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZS0W57nFZcg

It wasn’t until the p-funk/George Clinton inspired sounds of West Coast Hip Hoppers began to emerge that James Brown began to take a back burner within Hip Hop circles. It also didn’t help that he along with the rest of the music industry started clamping down on recording artists were sampling his music like there was no tomorrow.

We could do an entire book on the significance of James Brown. In fact there are several that are already written and film maker Spike Lee is gearing up to do a movie that chronicles the life and times of Mr. Brown.

It’s both interesting and sad that many of us in Hip Hop allow our pioneers to drift away in obscurity. Many of us even get arrogant and try to act like that what they are doing is new and unique when in fact it has been done before over and over. Without the history, not only do we not have the opportunity to build on past legacies, we also run the risk of making false analysis and assumptions.

For example, I ran into some ‘keep it real type cat’ who took the position that James Brown had nothing to do with Hip Hop. Dude really believed what he was saying but as we talked I came to find out that he did not know that James had even recorded a song with Bambaataa. But at 19 years old where was he really gonna get that info? He wasn’t even born when that landmark record ‘Unity‘ was first released. The local Hip Hop stations never play the song and even sadder they certainly they don’t do any interviews with Bambaataa or James Brown when he was alive and came to town.

Contrast that with the type of respect and reverence folks have for rock icons. We celebrate their birth dates and various milestones of their careers. Music legends like The Beatles, Elvis Presley, The Rolling Stones and even Kurt Cobain of Nirvana are given major dap as their musical legacies are passed down from one generation to the next.

Recently former Beatle Paul McCartney swung through Oakland to kick off his tour and it was a sight to behold. Not only did the event sell out and was the lead story on the evening newscasts, you also got a chance to see in attendance father and son and in some cases, grandfather, father and son. The bottom-line there was definitely an appreciation and an upholding of the musical heritage and legacy for a sizable segment of our population. Rock-N-Roll will live forever, because fans and practitioners make it a point to never let their heroes wither away into obscurity.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G7JUzrkQZkQ&feature=related

The perception is that Little Johnny from the suburbs is likely to know at least a little something about Elvis or The Beatles while Little Darnel from the hood is hard pressed to tell you something about the most recent musical icons. I swear to God when I speak at schools I’m amazed how kids who love Juvenile, BG and Jay-Z will draw blank stares when you mention groups like X-Clan, Jungle Brothers and even Public Enemy. They’re completely at a loss when you start talking about James Brown, George Clinton and others. Sure they may have heard the names, but they never heard the songs. Sadder still they have no idea of their importance. Hence, that is the reason for penning this article. It’s up to us to make the necessary changes. Not only do we wanna say happy Birthday James Brown, but also we want to pass along a few tidbits to build upon.

For more info on James Brown be sure to peep out Ricky Vincent’s book ‘The History of Funk‘. Also be sure to peep http://www.kpfa.org starting tonight after 7pm and all day Saturday to hear non stop James Brown…

written by Davey D

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BawG-N9_FR8&feature=related

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MBKz8pDNuto

Michael Jackson’s Memorial:End of an Era-Close of a Chapter-Where Do We Go from Here?

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Michael Jackson’s Memorial: End of an Era-Close of a Chapter
Where Do We Go from Here?

by Davey D

DaveyD-MJmemorialYesterday’s memorial for Michael Jackson was surreal, emotional, healing, inspiring and a heartfelt sobering wake up call. I’m glad I fought my initial urge to stay home and made the 5 hour drive from the Bay Area down to the Staples Center in LA.  The long drive done in the middle of the night gave me time to reflect on all that had taken place over the past couple of weeks.

The days leading up to the memorial were filled with lots of articles, commentary and musical tributes. For many of us Michael Jackson and his various incarnations throughout the years were rediscovered. From his early hits like ‘ABC‘, ‘I Want You Back’ and ‘Going Back to Indiana’ to his latter songs off the Thriller’, Invincible’ and ‘History’ albums, all took on new meaning. The brilliance behind them were better appreciated. When re-listening to his older material we came to understand that he and his brothers were years ahead of their time.

Over the past couple of weeks we discovered just how much of a global phenomenon he was. We learned how he kicked down doors and broke color barriers within the music industry. We learned how he gave over 40% of his income to charities. These aspects and so many more surrounding his life were often overlooked while we focused on his eccentric behavior and controversies.

Michael Jackson over the past two weeks was a bigger than life figure and in our rediscovering him, many of us rediscovered some long forgotten aspects of ourselves. For many of us Michael was still alive.  He was still alive in spite of the incessant news stories about his death and the speculation as to what caused it.  With each music or video tribute, television special or retrospective walk down memory lane, MJ was still here. His energy was around. His spirit felt.  As I listened to his older material I found myself yearning for him to bust out with new material and resurrect a long lost soulful sound from a bygone era. But alas he was gone.

Chuck D dropped lots in insight about Michael Jackson both on his Air America radio show and the History of Funk special

Chuck D dropped lots in insight about Michael Jackson both on his Air America radio show and the History of Funk special

Two days prior to me leaving for the Memorial I had done an in-depth radio show with Chuck D from Public Enemy and funk expert Professor Rickey Vincent– author of the book ‘History of Funk’.  It was a two hour show chock full of never before inside facts about MJ and how he and his brothers were rooted in a much larger soul, blues and funk musical traditions within the Black community. We talked in depth about where MJ and his brothers stood in relationship with their contemporaries at that time, George Clinton, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson, James Brown and so many others. We played many of his soulful and adventurous cuts from the mid 70s that were out of print and all but hidden from a mainstream press that seemingly only wanted to focus on ‘Thriller’ and ‘Off the Wall’.  This two hour History of Funk broadcast was the sound track to my 400 mile trek down to the memorial. And as the hours drew closer, the more alive and vibrant his music became-so much so that I literally forgot the reality at hand.  I anticipated an upbeat celebration and a chance to reconnect to old friends. We were coming together to celebrate Michael – not mourn him.

Here’s our conversation on All Day Play FM w/ Chuck D

Conversation All Day Play FM  w/ Rickey Vincent

MJ-Fans-300As I arrived at the Staples Center and got my tickets I was there amongst thousands. The mood was upbeat and somewhat festive. There were smiles and light hearted jokes. The mood was one of excitement as we all knew we were going to a historic event. The fact that we were among thousands of people who loved and appreciated this man sans the outright disrespect the media punditry playerhaterism who are increasingly out of step  with their viewers and listeners added to the jovial mood.

_MichaelJacksonstage-223It wasn’t until I got inside a darkened Staples Center and saw the stage adorned with flowers and the memorializing picture montage that it started to sink in what was really going on. As the place filled up we all could spot various celebrities who generally would cause a stir, the mood had drastically changed. It was more somber and definitely quiet except for the folks in the VIP section that seemed to be more animated and engaged as they smiled, exchanged pounds and hugged each other like this was just another industry event. I recall making note and tweeting about that.

When Michael’s gold casket adorned with roses was carried in…Then it really hit. The mood changed even more as it sunk in for all of us.  This was not some sort of celebratory concert even with Stevie Wonder, Usher and Mariah Carey all singing. This was all about us saying goodbye…Not just to Michael but to an era and to part of ourselves. There was a lesson or lessons that needed to be gleaned and I found myself deep in thought and reflecting.

MJ-mariahcarey-300The Memorial itself could be best described as beautifully sad. We all saw the highlights, the first being Mariah Carey singing as she tried her best to hold back tears and keep her voice from cracking. We understood how difficult it was to sing  with the casket in front of her.  People in the audience had teared up when it was first brought in. If she didn’t care nor had no love, then this would’ve been just another gig. But singing in front of MJ’s casket knowing that he was forever gone was something else.  Everyone at the Memorial felt her and appreciated the singing -cracked voice and all.

Magic Johnson sharing his KFC chicken story was nice.  It humanized MJ for us. Him talking about being asked to be in the ‘Remember the Time’ video was appreciated as we recalled MJ using an all Black cast for this video depicting Ancient Egypt. We as Black folks appreciated it, but back in 1992, when this video first premiered on prime time TV, it angered a lot of white media pundits who questioned why Jackson would show Egyptians as their real color – Black.  Folks need to ponder the deeper meaning behind that for a minute.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nDxsM5jLNxM

Stevie Wonder gave a heartfelt performance that brought us to tears

Stevie Wonder gave a heartfelt performance that brought us to tears

Stevie Wonder  and Usher moved us immensely as they sung their respective songs. Because I had done the History of Funk Show with Chuck D and Rickey Vincent, I had greater appreciation and understanding of what Stevie Wonder meant to MJ and the Jacksons when he took the stage.  I understood that Stevie was Motown’s first childhood star who at age 11 signed to Motown and was known as Lil’ Stevie – the Boy Genius. He was the one you saw rocking the harmonica as Gladys Knight, Smokey Robinson and others within Motown held it down.

I appreciated that as Stevie got older and made way for the new child star – Michael Jackson. Over the years, Stevie would write a number of songs that Michael covered.  From ‘My Cheri Amour’ to ‘I Don’t Know Why I Love You’ Wonder was an ever present figure  who over the years played a crucial role in helping shape and inspire the genius we appreciate about Michael.

I also understood that Stevie was arguably at the prime of his career winning Grammy after Grammy and dropping landmark albums like ‘Talking Book’, ‘Innervisions’  and ‘Songs in the Keys of Life’ as the Jacksons were emerging as pop sensations. With all this in mind, Stevie’s opening remarks about wishing he didn’t have to live to see the day we buried Michael along with his stellar performance of ‘Never Dreamed You’d Leave in Summer’ which was also covered by Michael took, on deeper meaning now that I had a historical and social context to put it in.

Usher’s heartfelt performance of Michael’s song ‘Gone Too Soon’ which had inspired dozens of video tributes found all upon Youtube including an incredible tribute done for the ill-fated BET Awards but was sadly never shown, was moving.

 

Brooke did her best to hold back tears while she talked about the great friendship she and Michael had.

Brooke did her best to hold back tears while she talked about the great friendship she and Michael had.

Brooke Shields’ speech was touching as was John Mayer’s performance. Many did not realize how close and long a friendship Shields and Michael had. It was touching and insightful. One had to respect Mayer for opting not to sing but to just play the riffs to the song ‘Human Nature’. He later noted that he could not do Michael justice.

Brother Jermaine Jackson singing Michael’s favorite song ‘Smile’ was sobering. We had heard early on that Jermaine was going to sing and it was met with excitement. Again when it finally sunk in that he was paying tribute to his fallen brother after Brooke Shileds had referenced the song in her remarks, we were all moved.

Reverend Al Sharpton gave the speech of a lifetime as he encompassed many of the feelings many were feeling but simply could not articulate. He addressed the naysayers and MJ haters in splendid fashion when he reminded us how Michael through his music and videos brought people of all races together and helped erase many divisions especially when he kicked down the doors to segregated entities like MTV.  He reminded the audience that it was Michael who pushed and played trailblazing roles in charitable events like Live AID and We Are the World.

Sharpton noted that MJ’s bringing together of folks paved the way for the eventual election of President Obama. This drew loud applause. Sharpton spoke directly to Michael’s kids when he said; “There was nothing strange about your Daddy, it was strange what your daddy had to deal with.” This drew a thunderous standing ovation.

I knew right then, in spite 20 thousand people inside Staples beaming and rousing in agreement with Sharpton, that pundits would immediately be put in front of the TV cameras to discredit – and they were. The main talking points were; Michael Jackson was not an African American icon, but an American icon and that Sharpton’s remarks were racist and would not be approved by Jackson. What’s funny about this was Jackson in later years came under attack for 3 or 4 things that drew the racial ire of some of Sharpton’s critics who say he plays the race card too much.

The first as I mentioned earlier was the ‘Remember the Time’ video where Michael caught flak for having African Americans be cast as ancient Egyptians.

The second was Michael buying the Beatles catalogue. Him besting everyone including former friend Paul McCartney at the music industry’s publishing game, which over the years has left scores of Black artists destitute, may have been the spark that led to the onslaught of attacks MJ had to endured.

The third was him marrying Elvis Presley’s daughter, Priscilla Presley. That was too much for a whole lot of prejudice folks to bear. I recall the anger it caused to have the King of Pop who in spite of his so called white appearance was still seen as a Black man marrying the daughter of the King of Rock-N-Roll. We all heard stories about Elvis’s daughter being called a “nigger lover”.

Prior to that, Michael caught racial heat for his very public friendship and relationship with Brooke Shields. Yes, the interracial dating thing even for the King of Pop was troubling for quite a few folks who want to insist that Michael be an “American icon” as long as he doesn’t marry their daughters. (The irony here is that Michael and Brooke never really dated they were just good friends, but even that was too much)

The fourth thing was Jackson going up to Harlem in June 2002 to Al Sharpton’s headquarters and speaking out about the blatant racism in the music industry. It was Jackson not Sharpton who referred to then lauded industry executive Tommy Mottola as racist and devilish. Sharpton tried to backpedal a bit on Jackson’s remarks and make it seem like a mistake in words, but it was just days later Michael went to England and underscored everything he said about Mottola and then some.

The bottom line is Sharpton captured the moment during the memorial. Sharpton’s words were a breath of fresh air when you look at the racial overtones that had been placed on Jackson ranging from idiotic Congressmen like Peter King out of New York, to the so called liberal icon Keith Oberman.

As each speaker took the stage and paid tribute, it hit home that the King of Pop was not only gone for good, but along with him an enduring, inspiring spirit calling on us to live up to life’s challenges and be our best at all times. It would be up to us to hold on to that spirit and do something with it. This realization was underscored when Martin Luther King III and his sister Bernice King spoke directly to the family and shared with them lessons they learned from their famous Civil Rights leader father. They recalled his famous Drum Major Instinct speech where he told us to be the best at what we do no matter how insignificant it may seem. They also shared with us MJ reaching out to their mother, Coretta Scott King  3 weeks before she passed which reminded us just how big a heart this man had.

Brother Marlon Jackson and Michael's daughter Paris reminded us that Michael was not just an icon but a beloved family member who will be missed

Brother Marlon Jackson and Michael’s daughter Paris reminded us that Michael was not just an icon but a beloved family member who will be missed

It all hit home whenMarlon Jackson spoke about his love for his brother which was followed by daughter Paris whose voice and cries about her love for her father were heard all around the world.  There wasn’t a dry eye in the building when she spoke.

After the Jackson family said their last goodbyes, the casket was removed the finality of Michael Jackson being forever gone hit. I found myself thinking how Michael meant different things to different people. Some saw him as only an entertainer while others saw him as part of a larger culture rooted in age-old traditions. Some saw Michael as transcending race while other saw him as part of a race. Some saw Mike as a meal ticket to sell t-shirts, records, tickets etc while others recoiled at him being commoditized.

I myself saw a man who left behind a rich legacy and I was wondering if it would be a legacy we exploit and squander or if it would be something we cherish and build upon?  Were my frequent walks down memory lane over the past two weeks a reminder for me to learn about myself and my people, build upon that, spread the knowledge and use that understanding to dwell deeper and bring forth the important aspects of the heroes and sheroes who do for us everyday?  In other words, start loving and appreciating while people are still around and not when their dead?

It was then that it hit me that Michael’s music was no longer alive. Not in the way it was when I was coming down to LA. It was no longer alive because it was time for us to move forward and add richness to the legacy and not keep using it. In other words stop, looking for comfort within Michael and his music and start using our talents and resources to comfort and be a blessing to others.

Michael Joseph Jackson was a constant companion-a sound track of sorts to my life. He was a constant who was there at every momentous occasion I experienced. And now he was no more. He’s the end of an era, a chapter closed and the start of new beginning if I so choose.

Michael Jackson was an iconic bigger than life figure prior to the Memorial. After brother Marlon and daughter Paris spoke, it hit hard that he was a brother, father, son and beloved friend who will surely be missed.

There will never ever be another Michael Jackson and for that I’m sad. But his memorial said to me, “The ball is in your court.  Michael’s  work is done. It’s on you, it’s on us –each and everyone of us who sought comfort in his talents and persona, to carry on and impact this world and the communities around us by helping move them to new and better heights. Will the world stop and pay attention when we die?

RIP Michael Jackson..May we build upon the foundation you laid for us.

The Jackson clan wore white gloves in honor of Michael

The Jackson clan wore white gloves in honor of Michael

Return to Davey D’s Hip Hop Corner

Chuck D & Funk Expert Rickey Vincent Speak on the Music & Political Legacy of Michael Jackson & the Jackson5

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Listen to the History of Funk pt 1-retrospective look at Michael Jackson & the Jackson 5

1-Breakdown FM-History of Funk pt1-Michael jackson & the Jackson 5

2-Breakdown FM-History of Funk pt2-w/Chuck D How MJ influenced Hip Hop & Politics

 
Professor Rick Vincent-author of History of Funk drops a lot of insight about the musical legacy of Michael Jackson  and his brothers

Professor Rick Vincent-author of History of Funk drops a lot of insight about the musical legacy of Michael Jackson and his brothers

Michael Jackson  and the Jackson 5 are considered steller musicians and entertainers who changed the game in major ways. Oftentimes when we speak of them they are presented as if they came out of nowhere and their musical prowess came out of a vacuum. We wanted to give people some deeper insight into their music and what it meant to Soul, Funk and the Black community.

We sat down with Professor Ricky Vincent aka the Uhuru Maggot, author of the landmark book The History of Funk. We sat down and walked through the history of MJ and the Jacksons and talked in depth about their influences ranging from James Brown to Stevie Wonder. We talked in depth about their roots including how MJ and his brothers grew up in Gary, Indiana. We talked about the important role Gary played in Black America, both in terms of having one of the country’s first African American mayors and the 1972 meeting by Black folks to set a nationwide agenda.

We talked about their father Joe Jackson and who he is and how he spent alot of childhood and teenage years in Oakland, California. Vincent talked about the vibrant blues scene that was in full gear when Joe jackson was around in West Oakland and how that may have been a foundation for his musical ambitions.

We spoke about Michael Jackson and his dancing history. We talked about his signature moves ‘The Robot’, The Moonwalk and locking and noted how these were popular dance styles well known in various hoods throughout California for years prior to Michael introducing them to the rest of the world.

We talked about the struggles the group had when MJ’s voice changed and how Motown executives wanted them to follow a particular pop formula while the group pushed to establish a new sound that was more soulful, funky and contemporary. Eventually the tension became so great that the group left Motown and joined Epic. Because Motown owned the name The Jackson 5, the group changed their name to The Jacksons. Complicating their situation even more was the fact that older brother Jermaine married Berry Gordy’s daughter hence he went on to stay at Motown and do a solo career.

We talk about the influence James Brown had on Michael and how he went out and pretty much adapted much of Brown’s delivery, showmanship and overall style. We explore the music from that time period in the mid 70s and note how the group found themselves under the gun as they tried to keep up with icons like Stevie Wonder, George Clinton, Sly Stone,  BT Express and an array of ‘child groups like the Sylvers who had bursted on the scene and were hitting hard.

Ricky reminded us of how George Clinton and his p-funk mob were in Detroit recording songs and that their style and influence was definitely felt. because he was connecting with the hood, the Jacksons were forced to step it up and become alittle more raw with their music.

We end this segment by highlighting the various musical directions the group took.

Here’s the link to part1

Breakdown FM-History of Funk pt1-Michael jackson & the Jackson 5

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Chuck D spoke about Michael Jackson's political side and how he influenced his love for Hip Hop

Chuck D spoke about Michael Jackson's political side and how he influenced his love for Hip Hop

In pt 2 we are joined by Chuck D of Public Enemy where we have an indepth discussion about MJ and his politics and how Chuck was introduced to Hip Hop via Mike.

Chuck talks about the important role legendary songwriters Gamble & Huff played in pushing Mike and his brothers. Author Ricky Vincent talks about how the message in the music is part of a much larger tradition within Black music.

Chuck D also talks about how some of Michael Jackson’s records which were used as breakbeats influenced him and made him embrace Hip hop more. In particular is the vintage cut ‘Music’s Taking Over’. Chuck also talks about the sample they used from MJ in the song By The Time I get to Arizona.

Chuck also talks about the important influence Michael Jackson had in the realm of videos.

We play lots of Jackson’s political songs as well as the cuts that inspired Chuck D.

We conclude the interview by talking about MJs War with Sony Music and Tommy Mottola, his charitable works and the importance of being named the King of Pop.

Here’s the link to pt 2

Breakdown FM-History of Funk pt2-w/Chuck D How MJ influenced Hip Hop & Politics

Return to Davey D’s Hip Hop Corner