In what may be the greatest Soul Train clip ever, the late Soul Train impresario Don Cornelius boogies his way down the line not once, but twice! In his only appearance on the line in the history of the show, Don was evidently inspired by the Fred Wesley & the JB’s track “Doing It to Death” and the presence of the Supremes to bust a few moves to the delight of the crowd. A little investigative research reveals that the clip appears to be from the May 12, 1973, episode from the second season of the show. It makes sense, as “Doing It to Death” had just been released in April and was steadily making its way up the Billboard soul singles chart.
Soultrain.com has the full story, and it appears Mary Wilson of the Supremes really wanted to go down the line and asked Don if he would join her. After refusing at first, Don eventually caved in and even tried to bust the Funky Chicken at one point. He returns a second time with Supremes members Lynda Lawrence and Jean Terrell, and flails a bit trying to do some sort of split. Even Don cherished the moment decades later, calling the moment a “classic piece of tape.”
To commemorate the 90th birthday of Malcolm X on Tuesday (May 19, 2015), Yasiin Bey (aka Mos Def) speaks on the significance of Malcolm X today, especially for those who Bey says are “…poor, or hungry, or hunted.”
Taken from an interview with Yasiin Bey shot in Paris with curator Sohail Daulatzai for the exhibit Return of the Mecca: The Art of Islam and Hip-Hop, and accompanied with the soulful boom-bap of beatmaker/MC Oddisee, Yasiin Bey poignantly reflects on the lasting influence of Malcolm X, whom he calls a “style icon, political thinker, and philosopher.”
More of the interview with Yasiin Bey is included in the 120-page commemorative book, which also features a commissioned essay by Chuck D, images from legendary hip-hop photographers Jamel Shabazz, Ernie Paniccioli, B+, Cognito, and Katina Parker, as well as album cover art, flyers and other ephemera.
Return of the Mecca: The Art of Islam and Hip-Hop is a traveling exhibit that showcases how hip-hop culture, from its very foundation until today, has been deeply influenced by its relationship to Islam. The exhibition debuted last October at the William Grant Still Arts Center for the city-wide Los Angeles Islamic Arts Initiative.
Rakim, Public Enemy, A Tribe Called Quest, the Roots, Ice Cube, the Wu-Tang Clan, Mos Def, Lupe Fiasco, and Jay Electronica are some of the biggest artists in hip-hop. Guided by figures such as Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali, as well as the influence of Islam on jazz and the Black Arts Movement of the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s, and on to hip-hop’s Golden Age, and up until today, these Muslim artists and many others are connected to the larger world of Islam. Reflected in everything from LP and cassette artwork and titles, to lyrics and samples to advocating personal, social and political uplift, hip-hop has been deeply influenced by the Nation of Islam, the Five Percent Nation, and Islam in the African diaspora.
The exhibit showcases a chronology of items documenting a nearly 70-year history that at its root and beyond interweaves jazz, soul, hip-hop, and Islam. A central component is dedicated to hip-hop’s foundations of the jazz and spoken word artists from the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, with materials on Yusef Lateef, Art Blakey, Ahmad Jamal, Gil Scott-Heron, Amiri Baraka, and others. A loop of Golden Age music videos, a never before seen short film of Jay Electronica at the Pyramids in Egypt and performing in the Middle East, as well as rare concert footage is also exhibited, curated with a focus on Los Angeles, but not forgetting contributions from important hip-hop centers Chicago, New York, and Philly. Over 200 album covers and cassette J-cards and shells are compiled wall-to-wall in a room dedicated to an assembled collection spanning the early 1980s through present. Foundational artists Gang Starr, Black Star, Brand Nubian, Queen Latifah, Poor Righteous Teachers, Jurassic 5, Digable Planets, Big Daddy Kane, and Intelligent Hoodlum are on display, along with recent contemporaries Freeway and Beanie Sigel, and current artists like Jay Electronica and Oddisee.
Check Wax Poetics Issue 61 for an article written Sohail Daulatzai that details the connection between hip-hop and Islam, and keep an eye out for an extended version of the piece online in the coming weeks.
So you got a few records and some old games, and fancy yourself a collector? It’s a start, but for some of us records are just the tip of the iceberg. Case in point, former AT&T executive Eric Edwards. While he’s got 40,000 LPs in his Brooklyn apartment, he’s also housing a 1,600-piece collection of African art worth about $10 million. Documentary filmmaker Mark Zemel tells Edwards’s story in his new documentary short The Collector, which he hopes to turn into a full series about collectors.
With a collection accumulated over forty-four years from all fifty-four African countries, Edwards hopes to open the Cultural Museum of African Art in Brooklyn next summer to give his collection a proper permanent home. In the meantime, he’s more than happy to share his apartment with a collection that’s clearly part of who he is. “I live with my art,” he says. “It’s part of what gives me sustenance, and direction, and sanity. All of the pieces that you see around here represent my psyche.”
Photographer Kai Schäfer creates a time machine with records.
German photographer Kai Schäfer is using photographs of records on turntables to tap into the same emotions that hearing those same records conjures up. Using only first pressings from the native country of a record’s release and period turntables, Schäfer is appealing to collectors who would call him out otherwise. You can’t quite get the full impact online, but some of the photos are as big as six feet and make for the perfect wall hangings in any vinyl sanctuary.
Your record going wood may not be a bad thing soon. Instructables software engineer Amanda Ghassaei has followed up her 3-D printed record with a laser-cut wooden record that looks better than any vinyl we’ve ever seen.