BROTHER ALI / “Walking Away”

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4 Responses to “BROTHER ALI / “Walking Away””

jam Says:
July 30th, 2007 at 4:40 pm

in Dorian (1:58): "staggered him, just by taggin him, mister tough guy one punch bring out the fag in him (bitch)" dang, that’s more than a cheap shot or blemish – that’s a whole truckload of ugly baggage falling out – yeesh – and then he’s all surprised at the end of the song when the girl don’t get down on her knees to thank him? sorry, but that one line ruined it all for me – gots too many people i know & love on the queer side of the fence to have much tolerance for this kind of ignorance

          kalamu sez           

we all make mistakes… we all are the walking wounded… often blinded just by being born&reared here

the reason i pointed it out was not simply to condemn but to offer a straight up critique that hopefully brother ali and all of us can hear and respond to. the research i did on brother ali and the sum total of his recorded output lead me to believe that brother ali would be willing to learn from his errors and if not outright publicly acknowledge that he was wrong, he would reconsider his actions and alter his behaviour, not mindlessly repeat past mistakes.

the "cheap shot" was deeper than the homophobic language. the real cheapness of the shot was using battering to convince a batterer that battering is wrong… it won’t work.

it seems that this song is based on an actual incident. "dorian" is from an earlier recording, not his current one. hopefully my man has grown and if not, hopefully this discussion will help him grow.

on a related note, i’m not sure how many people would have caught the "homophobia/resorting to violence to convince someone not to be violent" if it had not been pulled out and highlighted. we are so constantly bombarded with backwardness in language, particularly in popular (from hip hoppers to cowboys, valley girls, showbiz, etc. etc.) culture that it often just goes by as just another sign on the roadside of american capitalism. most of us seldom listen closely to the music we consume, or as they use to say on american bandstand: "i like the beat, you can dance to it but i don’t know/understand what they’re saying."

as, hopefully, has been clear and consistent on bol, we do not hesitate to state our views and be critical, however it is one thing to criticize and another thing to give up on someone. if we really believe in struggle, really believe in the possibility of working and struggling together than our critiques will be for the purpose of improving ourselves and each other and not used simply to dismiss each other.  

finally, i would just like to add a personal credo in terms of critiques. i try to be: 1. firm with myself, 2. flexible with my friends/allies, and 3. unsparing with my enemies.

thanks for your response.

—kalamu ya salaam   

Stephani Says:
July 31st, 2007 at 8:45 am

Mtume ya Salaam’s breakdown of standards and what’s important in hip hop, especially how you can’t apply the standards of other music genres, is probably the best general analysis of hip hop music I’ve ever read. Using the standards of soul or jazz to measure what makes something good in hip hop is like using the standards of great classical guitar to measure the work of Jimi Hendrix. They are just different kinds of music. Even with "serious" hip hop music, the flow and the beat have to rule to be good. Public Enemy might have been too boring and grave if it wasn’t for Da Bomb Squad firing off those machine-gun beats with the rhymes. You want proof of the primacy of the flow and the beat. Listen to LL Cool J’s "Radio" album: One young man with a big bad mouth and a beat box, blowing up the world.


          kalamu sez           

but of course i agree, mtume has provided a wonderful statement of beliefs. now, let’s look at what he does/listens to/puts forward. bol has been up for just over two years now. go back to the classic selections and tell me which of mtume’s hip hop selections feature rhymes over raw beats. his first post on bol’s first day was digable planets—rhymes over raw beats? hardly. we spent two weeks on a tribe called quest. and so on and so forth. i’m not disagreeing with what he chose, indeed i like a lot of it but using the criteria mtume outlined, the hip hop pieces he posted are far from what he says is the standard.

rather than fight over standards, i think it would be advisable to be a bit more inclusive. if you have to go all the way back to ll cool j for a strong example of rhyme/raw beats than maybe, just maybe we need a new term other than hip hop for the music that was made over the last twenty years or so.

and by the way, both mtume and i have discussed public enemy and how they put their music together at length (here and here). it’s far, far more than rhyme over beats.

i’m a jazz head and a coltrane freak. bet you there is plenty jazz i love and have posted that both pre-dates as well as has come after coltrane. i’m saying: don’t get stuck on just one era of hip hop and try to make that the definition for all time.

in jazz, back in the fifties there was a term called "moldy figs," a reference to those folk for whom jazz was music in 2/4 time—the traditional new orleans style a la jelly roll morton and louis armstrong’s hot five (and even that is stretching it a bit). the moldy figs hated bebop and you can imagine how they felt about cecil taylor, ornette coleman and john coltrane (all of whom have been posted on bol).

i think my point is clear. i find it hard to accept mtume’s definition as definitive precisely because of the hip hop music he has posted and praised that falls outside of his rhymes/raw beats. and, oh yeah, where does turntabalism fit into that narrow definition? the definition is accurate as far as it goes, the only problem being it only goes to the corner, never crosses the street and certainly doesn’t include what’s going on on the other side of town—btw, that’s a metaphor that i think everyone can understand at first reading ;->)


jam Says:
August 16th, 2007 at 5:51 pm

sorry to tag & run like that – y’all have given me so much with this website, i’m a bit ashamed that all i’ve offered was this one post slammin’ a momentary outbreak of nastiness in one small song

Kalamu, i truly appreciate the wisdom & insight of your reply – we are the walking wounded, myself included without a doubt – it’s good to know that there are those, like yourself, who are able to maintain hope in the face of fear & ignorance – i also really appreciate the points of your personal credo & will be trying to keep them in mind as i make my way

much gratitude to you both for doing this website – true soul food, all of it


| Oli Young Says:
October 7th, 2014 at 9:09 am

[…] As a single track, “Walk Away” is a brilliant example of painfully honest introspection. breath of life » BROTHER ALI / “Walking Away” […]

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