Arts Desk

Here Are Five Songs by D.C. Council Candidate Perry Redd

On the political-debate circuit this spring, Statehood Green Party D.C. Council candidate Perry Redd has mostly used his time to discuss the woes of Washington's underclass in an era of rapid gentrification—an important perspective, if one that has occasionally veered into iffy hyperbole. But in addition to his campaigning and a long career as an activist, Redd is a songwriter—one who says he's got a catalog of "well over 2,000 compositions." In the unlikely event that Washingtonians elect Redd the candidate next Tuesday—in a recent PPP poll of registered voters, only 2 percent said they were voting for him—they'll also be getting Redd the outsider musician. Fortunately, Redd's songs tell us a lot about his politics.

First, some background: According to his website, Redd led the band Reddex in the 1980s and 1990s, first in D.C. and later in Knoxville, Tenn. He's also recorded solo albums since the mid-'80s and runs a recording and video production studio that has very reasonable rates. A survey of his recent musical work—some of which Redd has posted to YouTube and MySpace and iTunes—reveals some often intriguing, charmingly lo-fi, and largely politically themed fusions of electro-funk, reggae, protest folk, R&B, and hip-hop. The knotty, seriously funky "Organize" is my favorite of the bunch. Here are five more:

"Bombs Over Tripoli"

I appreciate the vaguely Middle Eastern-sounding g-funk sound, as well as the media-crit approach: "I read the Times, I read the Post," Redd sings. "Who reports the story, who's running the most?" Redd is against the 2011 American air assault on regime targets in the Libyan capital: "How can I be proud of the land of the free," he raps, "when I'm watching it bomb another country?"

"I Am Troy Davis"

A synthetic gospel ballad. But Redd sees a silver lining to the execution of Troy Davis. "I lived to witness yet another amazing event...in America," he writes in the YouTube description. I saw people—of all races, religions and classes—band together to give one more minute of life to a man condemned to death."

"Life As A Black Man (Living in America)"

Redd's survey of America's systemic racism is epic enough to deserve a bigger budget. Seriously.

"To Be My Wife"

The case against marriage.

"Occupy"

Hey, at least this is better than some other Occupy songs.

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