Frank Zappa, Uncle Remus And My Black History Month Lesson - Pt.2
So this post is a loooonnng time coming, considering I wrote part one about three years ago. Ha!
But I guess the timing is just right. Here I was writing about an iconic rock star and his social protest song of the past, but it turns out we're having a renaissance of the protest song as we speak. Except now the rock stars are bigger with larger audiences worldwide.
Maybe "protest song" is the wrong word. In the case of Frank Zappa performing George Duke's, "Uncle Remus", it really was more of a sarcastically sharp commentary daring us to rethink our commitment to the Civil Rights movement and what it's future would hold. But man, I can't imagine what either of them would be thinking now. And I have to wonder if their lyrical query of, "...are we moving too slow?" to said Uncle Remus would be an even more loaded question in our current times.
Because right now, we have artists writing "protest songs" on a whole new level of discourse. In this current civil rights movement - version 2.0, we needed to reboot the narrative because what was talked about in the past had not yet progressed us far enough as a society. In this current climate a new rhetoric had to emerge to address the exquisitely evolved new state of racism and inequality. Entertainers and artists alike are asking pointed questions about privilege (Macklemore); they're confronting the abusers of power aggressively (Janelle Monae); or they're using their global platform to incite our audacity and amplify a call to action like never before. (Beyonce)
As for me, it just so happens that I'll be performing "Uncle Remus" (the song from my original post) again in the upcoming weeks. And this time the lyrics leave me in even deeper contemplation in light of the current batch of message music on the market. I mean seriously, "Have you seen us, Uncle Remus?" ??? What might Zappa and George Duke say now in response to the new climate of societal discord?
All I can say is that I'm excited that we are reaching new levels of conscientiousness, as is always shown evident through the music of our times. However tough the commentary might be to hear, it's making us collectively more aware as a human race - and that is the #1 job of music as far as I'm concerned.
Would love to hear what you think about the new "socially-conscience" music that us coming out right now. What other artists are speaking to you right now? (And don't think I forgot about Kenrick Lamar!) Leave your comments below.