Funky16Corners: Testify

By , July 21, 2016 10:32 am


Brother JC Crawford
Syl Johnson – Is It Because I’m Black (Twinight)
Staple Singers – For What It’s Worth (Epic)
Malcolm X
Equals – Police On My Back (President)
Majestic Choir and the Soul Stirrers – Why Am I Treated So Bad (Checker)
Huey Newton
Junior Murvin – Police and Thieves (Island)
Salem Travelers – Give Me Liberty or Death (Checker)
Dr Martin Luther King Jr
Earth Wind and Fire – Come On Children (WB)
Commodores – Rise Up (Atlantic)
Afro American Ensemble – Free the Black Man’s Chains (GSF)
Angela Davis
Baby Huey – Mighty Mighty Children (Unite Yourself This Hour) (Curtom)
Amanda Ambrose – Gimme Shelter (Bee Gee)
Saul Alinsky
John Hamilton and Doris Allen – Them Changes (Minaret)
Impressions – Keep On Pushing (ABC/Paramount)
Judy Clay – Get Together (Atlantic)
Abbie Hoffman
Buddy Miles- We Got To Live Together (Mercury)
Fighting Bob Lafollette
Lee Dorsey – Who’s Gonna Help Brother Get Further (Polydor)
Curtis Mayfield – Move On Up (Curtom)
Hugh Masekela – Bajabula Bonke (Healing Song) (UNI)
Arthur Lee and Love…

Listen/Download – Funky16Corners: Testify 151MB Mixed MP3

Greetings all.

Brothers and Sisters…the time has come….

Something very ugly is going down in Cleveland, Ohio.

Cleveland is where the wave crested, the Republican deal with the devil was sealed, and it is where the point of no return was fixed on the national timeline.

The forces of regression have been gnawing away at the heart of American for the last three and a half decades and the rise of Donald Trump is evidence that they have done considerable damage.

Though it didn’t start with Trump, his candidacy could not have existed without a foundation of anger, hatred, corruption and chaos on which to settle and grow.

There has been a lot of conjecture of late about whether or not history is repeating itself in relation to another pivotal election year, 1968. Things have changed a lot since then – especially in relation to politics and the media – but many of the ingredients that led to civil unrest then (poverty, racism, political division) have been simmering the entire time.

Thanks in large part to the unholy alliance between the worlds of high finance, industry, and socially regressive movements (often purporting to be religious in nature), and abetted by propagandists able to take advantage of the rapidly (and constantly) changing media environment, we turned on our TVs this week and were greeted by the sight of a racist, neo-fascist, ‘Potemkin Village‘ version of a tycoon as the Republican candidate for President.

Figures like Donald Trump are not new or unique in the history of the United States or the world. Ugly, nativist demagogues have repeatedly surfaced in times of strife, embraced by people eager for seemingly quick, easy solutions to deeply complex problems. Lacking the humility or courage necessary to tear down the walls that divide us, he and his followers choose instead to build new ones where they feel we should be separated.

So rises the very personification of a fist, with which they hope to pound what they perceive as  problems into submission, to try and assert their domination of a culture they see slipping from their grasp.

This is not to say that everyone that finds themselves drawn into his orbit is evil, or understands (in the bigger picture) what it is that they’re doing.

These are very hard times for a lot of our friends and neighbors. Decades of American companies bleeding the economy dry – through offshoring, deregulation and tax avoidance – have left large sections of the population either un-or-underemployed, unable to pay their mortgages (if they were ever able to afford a house at all) or rent, drowning in debt (often from medical bills or student loans) and unable or unwilling to fight back with collective bargaining, thanks to the wholesale demonization/destruction of the labor movement.

They are left terrified and anxious, living paycheck to paycheck, easy prey for those that blame their problems not on people actually running/ruining the economy, or corrupt politicians, but rather on minorities of all types (race, nationality, sexuality) and anyone else they think is contributing to the death of the white hegemony.

One of the worst by-products of this poisonous atmosphere is the breakdown of trust between minorities communities (of all kinds) and the police.
Many of America’s police forces have become increasingly militarized, poorly trained, and unwilling to deal with these weaknesses, seeing any call to do so as an unjust attack on their ranks.

As a result, we have been faced with a seemingly endless string of abuses of police power, culminating in a highly publicized series of police killings of civilians, which are rarely followed by successful prosecutions. When these cases do manage to make it into the justice system, they are often handled by prosecutors unwilling to bring rogue policemen to justice, and policemen unwilling to breach their own wall of silence. The few cases that do make it to trial, often end in acquittals or a slap on the wrist.

This pattern results in the aforementioned breakdown in trust (and more recently/tragically in assassinations of police), and many whites, awash in privilege, convinced that the police are all that remain between them and a world they’re terrified of (and have no stake in), look the other way.

One of the prominent responses to the epidemic of police violence has been the Black Lives Matter movement. BLM has become a flashpoint for racists who respond to its calls for police accountability by accusing them (unjustly) of advocating violence and racial division (thus the pathetic return volleys of “All Lives Matter”).

When police violate their oath, do their jobs so poorly that people end up dead, or otherwise break the law, and they are either let off entirely or disciplined in a much lighter way than the general public, it erodes their authority and public trust not only in the police but in the integrity of the law. That’s why the solutions to this problem must start with, or at least concentrate on the police.

But the response from law enforcement (not exclusively, but mostly, and very loudly from police unions) has been recalcitrance, refusal of accountability, and deflection of responsibility onto the victims.

When one of the two major national political parties uses their presidential convention as a vehicle to perpetuate this cycle, it puts the entire country in a horrible position.

This week we saw speakers in Cleveland (and the attendees) cheering the acquittal of the policemen in the Freddie Gray case and reinforcing the idea that everyone outside of their ranks (especially BLM) was anti-cop (as opposed to pro-rule of law).

I put together ‘Testify’ as a companion piece to a set that was first posted here back in 2010, ‘Things Got To Get Better (Get Together)’.

The specific points of reference might have been different then, but the root causes, and the people behind them were the same. At that point, we were barely a year into President Obama’s first term. Today, we are nearing the end of his second term, and approaching the election that will determine his successor.

This has been an especially divisive campaign, on both sides of the aisle, marked by the (sadly unsuccessful) ascendance of Senator Bernie Sanders in response to the rightward drift of the Democratic Party, and on the other side, the rise of Trump.

We approach the election with the GOP solidifying their support for racist policies, the repeated use of fear as a weapon, and the Democrats left trying to unify around the controversial and widely unpopular Hillary Clinton.

There’s a little more than three months until Americans head to the polls and make the decision that will determine how (or whether) this country moves forward.

This mix gathers together black artists from the worlds of soul, funk, gospel and rock, with songs that were created in response to oppression and racism (here in the US, Jamaica, the UK and Apartheid-era South Africa), crying out for an end to both and many of them asking not for separation, but for recognition, unity and progress.

The voices in between the songs are from some of the most important progressive figures of the past century, many of them controversial, but all of who worked for an end to destructive forces, advocating for the less fortunate and against the oppressors.

Some of them may be unfamiliar to younger readers (Look them up! You won’t be sorry.) and some of them may be people that you’ve heard bad things about (Again, educate yourself), but all of them are important.

Ultimately, despite all of the words I’ve managed to wring out of my tired brain, I would hope that the mix speaks on its own. If you listen, and like what you hear, pass it along to someone who you think would might dig it, and/or learn from it, and do whatever else you can to counter the dark forces eating away at the country, and our culture (first and foremost, registering to vote, don’t one of the “one in three”).

I hope you dig it, and I’ll see you next week.

Keep the faith





PS Head over to Iron Leg too.

9 Responses to “Funky16Corners: Testify”

  1. Evan says:

    I must say, I have to disagree with you. I have listened to funk and R&B and Soul my whole life. I play funk on guitar in a band and it is an absolute blast. I have been enjoying this website for many years now and have learned a lot. However, I regret to say that I am unbookmarking this page. I have black cousins and black friends and as a white man have never seen the world through a color specific lens. That is not how I feel we should view each other because you know what? ALL LIVES DO MATTER. There should never be organizations that exist only to try to empower a certain race or religion. From BLM to the KKK to those crazy scientologists they are all misguided bigots. Now I’m not saying that everyone is treated equally, but just because someone is white does not mean they automatically get a free pass card where they don’t have to work for what they got and experience strife and struggle. That is BS. Everyone should be proud to be who they are and of their heritage, no matter what that may be. We are all brothers and sisters, we are all HUMAN. We should all be able to share our cultures together because this is the land of the free where that is allowed. I hope someday everyone, regardless of race or religion, can finally see that. I hope too that your views on the world change as well.

  2. detta says:

    🙂 thanks for the hope.
    sometimes as the mountains seem to crumble and the world seems like a landslide , your lungs suffocating in all the rubble.. a little hope reminds you to just keep on breathing…

  3. Larry says:

    Evan – I’m genuinely sorry you feel that way, but I think you’re wrong about this. First of all, equating BLM and a racist terrorist organization like the KKK tells me you have been sadly misinformed. There is no comparison, other than invalid ones made by people with a hateful agenda or enough of a deficit of self-awareness in regard to white privilege.
    Second, if you’d been coming here for years and actually reading my posts this would come as no surprise whatsoever. I’ve never been shy about my politics.
    That said, if you really believe that ‘all lives matter’, I’d like to think that you’d be disturbed when a bunch of them were ended (unjustly and carelessly) because their owners happened to be members of a specific race. You know, thinking to yourself, ‘If all lives really do matter, why aren’t these lives assigned the same value as mine?’
    Thinking that, instead of seeing people standing up for EQUAL RIGHTS as a threat to your own.
    People will be able to stop emphasizing the fact that BLACK LIVES MATTER when society as a whole -especially figures of authority with lethal force at their disposal – start to act like they understand it, and train their representatives to act in a fashion that reflects that point of view.
    The time for white people who claim to put equal value on all lives to ACTUALLY ACT LIKE IT is long since passed.
    So, the next time you listen to R&B, soul or funk music – especially the music made by black artists from the classic era, who experienced Jim Crow firsthand, and made music born in that experience, stop and give it some thought.
    Either honor those artists and their suffering by changing your attitude, and doing something to make the lives of their descendants safer, or put the music away until you are ready to do so.

  4. Larry says:

    You’re welcome, Detta.

  5. Holly says:

    What Vincent the Soul Chef said. Thank you. xoxoxo

  6. Muchas gracias, mi hermano. Well-said & well-played.
    As a schoolteacher, artist, father, husband, righteous reverend, & hustler of culture, I could not agree more with your powerful & wonderful sentiments & the funk that goes hand in hand with it.
    Fight the power & dig it the most every day in every way…

  7. Randy says:


    This is by far the best post I’ve read on your site. Very well spoken along with the music to match.

  8. Larry says:

    Thanks Randy!

Leave a Reply

New Comment Capcha System = Simple Math! * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.

Panorama Theme by Themocracy