REVOLUTION'S DRUMS

NICOLE KALI

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REVOLUTION'S DRUMS

Ancient Africa's musical uprising lives on in modern music.

Drum talk, ritual performance, sexual liberation, spiritual strength, and tribal call-and-response are still the driving elements behind America's most relevant sounds.

Blues, funk, hip-hop, jazz, rap, rock and soul are musical cousins. They all take their influence from African rhythms.

These genres have been demonized because their origins are primeval, pre-Christian and from a place white patriarchy calls inferior.

Colonization attempted to cut off the continent's native communication once slaveholders realized revolution lived in the music.

But when you suppress something powerful, the response is beyond any control.

Nature and truth will resurface even stronger if they're buried.


IN AFRICA, THE DRUMS BEAT LOUD.

 

PERCUSSIVE MUSIC SPEAKS TO AN ENTIRE CROWD.

 

MESSAGES TRAVELLED VIA SOUND ACROSS MILES.

 

POETS HAD ORAL HISTORIES ON FILE.

 

RHYTHMS OF REVOLUTION FLOW THROUGHOUT TIME.


AND THERE IS SPIRITUAL POWER FOUND IN A RHYME.

 

IN MEDIEVAL WEST AFRICA, GRIOTS PERFORMED SONGS.

 

THEY PRESERVED THE PAST AND PUSHED PROGRESS ALONG.

 

GRIOTS PLAYED "HOUR-GLASS" DRUMS WITH TONES LIKE SPEECH.

IT WAS THE AFRICAN WAY TO INFORM OR TO REACH.

 

DUNDU TO THE WOLOF, DONDO FOR THE BAOULE.

 

ANCESTORS TO BASS DRUMS IN MUSIC TODAY.

 

SINGER-HISTORIANS KEPT ANCIENT WAYS...

 

WHILE LAYING THE FOUNDATION FOR REVOLUTIONARY DAYS.

 

EMPOWERMENT HAS MANY FORMS, AND SOUND IS JUST ONE.

EUROPEAN CHRISTIANS SHOWED UP, THEY BANNED THE AFRICAN DRUM.

 

 THE POWER OF DRUMS IS VERY CLEAR.

 

AFRICAN CUSTOMS AND SPIRITUAL SONGS ARE STILL HIGHLY FEARED.

THEY CONTINUED IN SECRET SO CHANGE COULD COME.

 

BLACK SPIRITUALS TURNED INTO BLUES, FROM WEST AFRICAN VODUN.

 

THIS CREATED JAZZ AND ROCK: A SOUNDTRACK TO GETTING FREE.


Harlem during the height of its Renaissance, fusing art and politics. Andreas Feininger/Bonni Benrubi Gallery.

BLUES AND JAZZ PLAYERS WERE LGBT.

THEY WERE OPEN ABOUT SEXUALITY.

FROM BILLIE TO LANGSTON HUGHES TO MA RAINEY.


Bessie Smith


Billie Holiday


Portrait of Langston Hughes, 1960. Bernard Gotfryd Photograph Collection.


Ma Rainey, who performed the classic 'Prove It On Me' about her bisexual lifestyle

THE GODDESS' FOLLOWERS STOOD FOR WHAT'S RIGHT.


Louis and Lucille Armstrong

UNDERGROUND IDEOLOGY BROUGHT BALANCE TO LIGHT.

BIGOTS FIGHT THIS REVIVAL, BUT LOSE THE WAR.

 

THEY ARE FIGHTING FORCES HERE LONG BEFORE.

 

BY THE 60'S AND 70'S, BLACK POWER KICKED ASS.

A HISTORICAL WAVE UNIFIED RACE AND CLASS.

FIGHTERS OF ALL GENDERS, SEXES AND CREEDS FOUGHT AUTHORITY'S GRIP ON OPPRESSED PEOPLE'S NEEDS.


Black Panther free breakfast rally in Harlem. Photograph by Ken Regan, New York Historical Society.

POLITICAL CHANTS FOR FREEDOM HAD AFRICAN DRUMS.

 

WHITE PATRIARCHY KNEW A REDAWNING HAD BEGUN.

 

ALBUMS LIKE THE BLACK VOICES ON THE STREET IN WATTS CAME OUT.

POET-PROPHETS RALLIED AS ONE TO FACE DEATH AND DOUBT.


Gil Scott-Heron, the political spoken wordsmith from New York who would inspire hip-hop

SEXUAL CRUDITY GREW MAINSTREAM, WHAT EMPOWERMENT BRINGS.

 

ON THE FRONT LINES OF REBELLION, ACTIVISTS WOULD SING.

 

BLACK PANTHERS USED JAZZ TO SPREAD TRUTH FROM L.A. TO TIMBUKTU.

 

THIS ERA CHANNELLED OLD TIMES TO CATALYZE SOMETHING NEW.

LESBIANS LED ARTS SESSIONS AND TAUGHT SELF-DEFENSE.

 

SOCIAL JUSTICE PROVIDED A SPACE TO BREAK FALSE PRETENSE.

 

FUNKIFIED SPOKEN WORD ATTACKED THE PLUTOCRACY.

CIVIL RIGHTS PAVED THE WAY FOR DEMOCRACY.

MALCOLM X, BOBBY SEALE, ANGELA DAVIS AND KING SHOWED THE WORLD WHAT IS REAL.



AT THE SAME TIME, REACTIONARIES BRUTALLY CRACKED DOWN...

 

USING DRUGS AND SEX LAWS TO LOCK UP THE BLACK, POOR AND BROWN.

 

ALL DURING CHAOS, RIOTS AND ARRESTS, MUSIC BUILDS.



Bob Marley in the Pan-African Revolution

IT'S THE SOUND OF PROTEST.


Fred Hampton, Chicago Black Panther killed by police/FBI

CYCLES OF REVOLUTION CONTINUE TO SPIN.

PROPHETIC VOICES HAVE RELEVANCE AGAIN.


G20 protest in Hamburg.

THEY SAY DEFEND INDIGENOUS LIFE AND NATURE AS WELL.

 

RECOGNIZE INJUSTICE AND GIVE RACISTS HELL!

 

STOP INEQUALITY AND VIOLENCE BY PROTECTING THE POOR.

ENSURE THE WORLD'S FUTURE BY DEFUNDING WAR.

 

AS MOVEMENTS LOST STEAM, HIP-HOP CARRIED A PEOPLE'S HOPE.

 

THIS MUSICAL CITIZEN JOURNALISM HELPED GENERATIONS COPE.

THEY SAMPLED PROPHETIC VOICES TO PROMOTE PROGRESSIVE ACTION.

 

"REAL GANGSTERS ON WALL STREET!"

 

STREET POETRY REJECTED CORPORATE CASH-INS.

RAPPERS HIGHLIGHTED CORRUPTION "NICE" CROOKS DON'T MENTION.

THEY TOOK DOWN POLITICIANS FROM NIXON TO CLINTON.



STRONG WOMEN RAPPED TO TAKE SEXISM DOWN.





EAST COAST OR WEST COAST, AN ALLEGIANCE WAS FOUND.

 

NICOLE KALI USES RHYTHMS FROM AFRICA'S FORESTS.

THEY DROWN OUT LIMP-DICK CHRISTIAN WIMPS AND THEIR LAME LITTLE CHORUS.

 

FAKE RELIGION CAN NO LONGER PLAY DUMB.

 

IT IS TIME TO PLAY REVOLUTION'S DRUMS.


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