Arts Desk

Local Songs for Your Martin Luther King Day

Slow news day, slow news day. But there are a few musical goodies circulating that are pegged to Martin Luther King Day. On Friday, I mentioned that local producer Jon Kwest released the moombahton edit "Drum Major," which applies some 108 bpm to King's haunting "Drum Major Instinct" sermon.

D.C. rapper yU included the empowerment jam "I Believe" on his strong 2011 album, The EARN, but his label Mello Music Group sent out a reminder this morning that the song has some serious MLK vibes. In it, yU rhymes:

I draw from dreams. Cuz they're talking to me at night
Loud and clear, and I never bow to fear. Greater
Thoughts I have right now, happen some years later
The weird way the universe works,
trust is the crust of life's pie, I succeed because I believe

Rousing! But maybe not as rousing as this, a vocal-only edit of Marvin Gaye's classic "What's Going On" that Beauty Pill's Chad Clark shared on Soundcloud a year ago. He reshared it today. "It is a file that is passed around a lot," he writes. "It's not hard to find. It's on the internet. It is common for music producers to share it with each other as an example of the magic of performance." That's not the reason he's sharing, Clark says:

I am putting this up on our Soundcloud today for obvious reasons. Today is MLK Day. You have the day off. It's nice to have a day off. But take a couple of minutes to enjoy this lovely song anew and think about what this day means. Tolerance, love, courage, empathy. Try to imagine a horrible world where people like this don't come along to rescue us all from our ignorance and our gnashing teeth.

What's Going On (vox only) by beautypill

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  • Darrell Perry

    I'll add one to your list- Poem-cees, at the MLK Memorial Dedication:

    Bus Past

    Even if you flew, drove, or walked yourself to this celebration
    -you got here, BY BUS

    Your GPS may have directed you, fine leather seats may have cushioned your behind, and I’m absolutely certain that your air was conditioned…

    But you

    55 years after the ’55 Montgomery Bus Boycott,
    Our feet are SOFT; perhaps manicured- definitely spoiled…

    Your toes like to brag about pseudo hardships
    -was it hotter at the King Dedication?
    -nah, we were colder at Barack’s inauguration…

    Some of you may have packed as many as 7 pairs of shoes
    Just for this ONE WEEKEND

    …and not a pair is prepared to Nike Air yourself
    From home
    To work
    From work
    To the store
    From the store
    To church
    From church

    To some of us, in status
    The bus is lower than the subway
    -and the subway is UNDERGROUND

    But in ’55, those air brakes were the soundtrack to our daily commute
    … Sister Rosa didn’t have a Ipod to tune out the noise
    No ‘frowny-face’ text message was sent asking for bail money
    And Reverend King did NOT ‘tweet’ about Monday’s boycott plans…

    There was no telecommuting
    Sidewalks have no HOV lanes…
    These crowds got there without the aid of a smartphone
    And there was more than an impromptu flash mob trying to stop ‘em

    Put THAT in your status update
    -OUR FEET ARE SOFT; but they’ll be a li’l tougher by the time we’re finished marching today & dancing tonight

    So go home- embellish upon the legend of today- tell friends & family how you walked a country mile & stood in lines & did it with style, because it was your DUTY to be here for this ONE day- then remind them, the Montgomery Bus Boycott lasted Three Hundred and Eighty- ONE SUCH DAYS;

    and while you’re here- just for kicks,


    sit anywhere you please…

    rest those feet- BECAUSE…

    YOU CAN.

  • Jonathan L. Fischer

    Thanks for sharing, Darrell. Very cool.

  • Bill Billingston

    Was reading a new yorker article about the Drum Major speech and it's being used out of context - that King's point was "NOT" to be a drum major - not to seek the attention that leads to jealousy, envy, and egotism. Pretty interesting how context plays roles in things.