Written by David Turner (@dalatudalatu)
During elementary school summer I went to a “camp” held at my church, which was less so a “camp,” rather just Black summer school. We’d learn about basic grammar rules and do arithmetic in addition to gym classes and pool trips. A lot about this program stuck with me in spite of my youth, and particularly were the history classes, as they weren’t like any school history classes that I had previously taken. Instead of “American History” it was Black History, where in it we learned about African countries, the Civil Rights movement and many different important Black figures whose knowledge I’ve taken for granted too many years of my life, till I recently noticed it leaving me. But what hasn’t left me was the music of Scott Joplin, the words of “Life Every Voice and Sing (The Negro National Anthem),” and those two Civil Rights leaders everyone needs to learn about at some point.
A few years ago DJ Greg Street release a mixtape of sequenced Martin Luther King speeches, but oddly, and maybe not-wisely, underneath the speeches were G-Funk instrumentals, which resulted in hearing Martin Luther King talk about Bull Connor releasing dogs and fire hoses on Civil Rights protestors. The listening experience is a little stomach turning in terms of messing with such a historical document, but the narrative power of King is not lost. A similar effect is heard in a recent tape that collects different speeches from Malcolm X and laces middling Trap beats under his charged and concerned thoughts, especially as he talks about his separation from the Nation of Islam. Both collections are strange artifacts that oddly feel appropriate. Not that these great orators need rap production to keep one’s attention, far from it. But going back to those summer days the motivation of these projects seems so simple: Making sure our people hear the Word, whatever the medium of the day requires.