Better Blackness

December 30, 2015

Gladys Knight’s “End of the Road” Medley

Filed under: Icons,Music — betterblackness @ 4:56 am
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The perfect concoction of soul, nostalgia, crisp harmonies, a sharp arrangement and a singer at the top of her game. Forget the corny announcer at the end and just replay the performance again and again from the beginning.

August 31, 2014

Cassandra Wilson and Gregory Porter Hanging Out

Filed under: Icons,Music — betterblackness @ 4:46 pm
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Two of the greatest vocalists of all time hanging out together talking, eating, singing and sipping. It’s magical and awkward and wistful by turns but absolutely engrossing and revealing throughout.


January 20, 2014

Amiri Baraka’s Greatest Love Poem

Filed under: Icons,Literature — betterblackness @ 10:06 pm
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For a lady I know


talk the talk I need
you, as you resurrect
your consciousness above
the streets,as you walk
with me, and lay
with me, and wonder
what is on
my mind. Oh talk, talk,
lady, and remind yrself
that your are dealing
with a spirit, deal, madam
in your bigassed smiling eyes
in the world of real things-
as I have pronounced the life
in our fingers, real, so you must be
and grow to love me, as I must, of
course, finally. fall on my knees
with love for you

Amiri Baraka

Source link for the poem:

January 19, 2014

Amiri Baraka Memorial Mix by DJ Jalylah

Filed under: Icons,Literature,Music — betterblackness @ 6:25 pm


In The Tradition: Amiri Baraka 1934 – 2014
mixed by jalylah


“When I’m Called Home” Rodney Kendrick/“In the Tradition” (excerpted) Amiri Baraka + E. Ethelbert Miller
“I’ll Get Along Somehow” Larry Darnell / “Baraka Reminisces” Amiri Baraka + E. Ethelbert Miller
“The Honeydripper” Joe Liggins
“I Love Music” The O’Jays / “I Love Music” Amiri Baraka
“Ogunde” John Coltrane
“Hey, Buddy Bolden” Nina Simone
“So What” (Live at the 1963 Monterey Jazz Festival)/ “The Dance” Amiri Baraka
“Black Dada Nihilismus” Amiri Baraka + New York Art Quartet
“I’m A Happy Cowboy” Herb Jeffries
“ Way Out West” Sonny Rollins / “Bronze Buckaroo” Amiri Baraka
“Long As You’re Living” Abbey Lincoln
“Black Art” Amiri Baraka + Sonny Murray
“Wailers” Amiri Baraka + David Murray
“Something In The Way Of Things (In Town)” Amiri Baraka + The Roots
“I’m So Proud / Ya He Yey Ya” Amiri Baraka + William Parker
“I Plan To Stay A Believer” Curtis Mayfield / “Thank You” E. Ethelbert Miller

“In The Tradition,” Baraka’s comments on Larry Darnell, and poet/scholar E. Ethelbert Miller’s appreciation of Baraka were excerpted from Miller’s interview of Amiri Baraka on the 1998 edition of HoCoPoLitSo’s The Writing Life, which can be viewed on YouTube:

Photo Credit: Chester Higgins Jr.


January 1, 2014

“The Second Sermon on the Warpland” by Gwendolyn Brooks

A perfect poem for any New Year’s Day and for all who count themselves among “the last of the loud.”



This is the urgency:  Live!

and have your blooming in the noise of the whirlwind.


Salve salvage in the spin.

Endorse the splendor splashes;

stylize the flawed utility;

prop a malign or failing light–

but know the whirlwind is our commonwealth.

Not the easy man, who rides above them all,

not the jumbo brigand,

not the pet bird of poets, that sweetest sonnet,

shall straddle the whirlwind.

Nevertheless, live.


All about are the cold places,

all about are the pushmen and jeopardy, theft–

all about are the stormers and scramblers, but

what must our Season be, which starts from Fear?

Live and go out.

Define and

medicate the whirlwind.


The time

cracks into furious flower.  Lifts its face

all unashamed.  And sways in wicked grace.

Whose half-black hands assemble oranges

is tom-tom hearted

(goes in bearing oranges and boom).

And there are bells for orphans–

and red and shriek and sheen.

A garbageman is dignified

as any diplomat.

Big Bessie’s feet hurt like nobody’s business,

but she stands–bigly–under the unruly scrutiny, stands in the wild weed.

In the wild weed

she is a citizen,

and is a moment of highest quality; admirable.

It is lonesome, yes.  For we are the last of the loud.

Nevertheless, live.

Conduct your blooming in the noise and whip of the whirlwind.

–Gwendolyn Brooks, from *In the Mecca*, 1968

October 28, 2013

Sunshine Road and Sweet Earth Flying: Two Marion Brown Gems

Filed under: Icons,Music — betterblackness @ 4:08 pm
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There is so much great music on the Web that exemplifies Better Blackness. I could spend years re-posting it and completely disregard all other forms of expression. So I try to refrain from sharing as much as I would like. However, there are some instances when it seems downright negligent not to share outstanding work that is deserving of much wider appreciation. This is the case with lots of music by the late Marion Brown.  To keep him from being almost totally forgotten, here are two of his finest creations, “Sunshine Road” and “Sweet Earth Flying”, both from the 1970s — when there was more room for “creative music” within the jazz idiom and everything didn’t have to sound like a branch of Ellingtonia or vapid New Age. Alas, we can be thankful these recordings exist and that generous souls have made them available for our listening pleasure and edification (“Sweet Earth Flying” and the album November Cotton Flower, for example, take their inspiration from Jean Toomer’s genre-bending Cane).




August 22, 2013

Charles Lloyd’s Hymn to the Mother

Filed under: Icons,Music — betterblackness @ 2:46 pm
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Black buddhist jazz at its finest. The rest of the set is outstanding also. Listen and be enlightened.



April 13, 2013

In the Heart of the Moon: A Moment with Ali Farka Touré and Toumani Diabaté

Filed under: Icons,Music — betterblackness @ 5:21 pm
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Given all the internecine strife that is devastating Mali, Congo, Nigeria, the U.S. and other parts of the African Diaspora, this profile of the late Ali Farka Touré and Toumani Diabaté grows in resonance with each passing day. There were moments, there are moments, there will be moments when our better selves surface. Let’s cherish them.

January 27, 2013

“I Come from the Nigger Yard” — an excerpt

Filed under: Icons,Literature — betterblackness @ 4:32 pm
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There has been so much public discourse recently about the N-word, I couldn’t help but recall the great Guyanese poet Martin Carter’s classic opus from 1954. Here’s the last stanza:

I come from the nigger yard of yesterday
leaping from the oppressors’ hate
and the scorn of myself
I come to the world with scars upon my soul
wounds on my body, fury in my hands
I turn to the histories of men and the lives of peoples.
I examine the shower of sparks the wealth of the dreams.
I am pleased with the glories and sad with the sorrows
rich with the riches, poor with the loss.
From the nigger yard of yesterday I come with my burden.
To the world of to-morrow I turn with my strength.

Martin Carter

December 2, 2012

Nina Simone Feeling Good Montage

Filed under: Icons,Music — betterblackness @ 3:25 pm
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