Over at the New York Times, Questlove reflects on Amiri Baraka’s constant quest to merge culture and social change.
When he wrote “Blues People” and “Milneburg,” the apogee of American music was bebop. When I read “Blues People” and “Milneburg,” it was hip-hop. But Mr. Baraka was onto something. People sniffing around art that’s trying to change society, and then dabbing on the scent of that art so that they, too, can seem like they’re part of the solution — that’s as much of a danger as it’s ever been.
The Roots recorded with Mr. Baraka once. It was for our “Phrenology” album, in 2002, which was titled for the absurd, discredited science of taking a measure of a man’s character by feeling his head. The album was also about racial profiling, social Darwinism, and hip-hop itself: If you’re a hip-hop head, what can you expect from the world, and what can the world expect from you?
It’s an important tribute from a contemporary black artist who’s grappling with the legacy of another. Read the rest over at the Times.