Roy Wood Jr. - James Brown's Secret Message to Black People

Roy Wood Jr.: Father Figure Season 1, Ep 1 02/19/2017 Views: 711

Roy Wood Jr. reveals what black musicians like Ray Charles and James Brown are really saying when they sing about America. (4:40)

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You wanna knowwhat black folks feeling?

Just listen to their music.

Our music tell youeverything that's going on

in the black psyche.

It's a beautiful...telegram.


And nowhere in the historyof black music

is therea hit patriotic song.

That ain't what we do.

I mean, we'll cover a song,but, like,

we don't writeno original patriotic songs.

Black artists ain't never--

'Cause we got a conflictedrelationship with the country.

You can't writeno honest patriotic song.

You gotta leave thatto white artists.

They done had a good time.

You had a good timein America,

you damn right you should bewriting a patriotic--

♪ And I'm proud to bean American ♪

♪ Where at leastI know I'm free ♪

(cheers and laughter)

They be serious.

You couldn't possibly expectthat level of patriotism

from a race of people that havehad so many issues, you can't.

It's not realistic.Black people don't--

We don't sing about America.

We singabout specific cities

where you can havea good-ass time.

That's what we do.

We don't talk aboutthe country.

We can tell youwhere the party at, though.

We can do that.

Look, I can't tell younothing about America,

but let me tell you aboutthe city where the heat is on

all night on the beach'til the early morn.

Welcome to Miami,that's where you got to go.

You ever been to California?

Oh, my God, boy, you got togo down to California, boy.

Boy, California knowshow to party.

The city of L.A.,the city of good ol' Watts

and the city of Compton.

They keep it rockin'.

Write that shit down,I'm trying to tell you.

They keep it rockin'.

Black people don't dopatriotism.

Maybe "Georgia on My Mind."

That's the closestwe probably come.

Maybe that, maybe that.

That's a good song, it's warm,it's about the country.

Ray Charles,"Georgia on My Mind," good song.

But... the key wordin that song

is "on my mind."

Ray Charles was just thinkingabout Georgia.

He didn't tell youto go there.

Georgia's like every otherpart of the South.

It's got some pockets youshould not be in after dark.

If you'd have askedRay Charles to be more specific

on where in Georgia to go,

he'd have said to go to Atlantawhere the players play

and they ride in them thangslike every day.

(cheers and applause)


My Uncle Derek tried toshut me down on that one.

"What about James Brown'Livin' in America'?

"That's patriotic, James Brownsinging about America.

It's original and he black."

♪ Livin' in America

♪ Eye to eye

♪ Livin' in...

It's a good song,but keep it real, man.

James Brown wrote that songfor "Rocky IV,"

and as soonas he finished singing it,

Apollo Creeddied in the ring.

It's a sad song.

It's a sad song.

How can you hear "Livin' inAmerica" and not think about

Apollo Creed just fallinglifeless to the--

Michael B. Jordanlost his daddy that day.

If anything, "Livin'in America" is not patriotic.

It's the opposite.

It's a secret messageto black people.

James Brown is one ofthe most masterful musicians

to ever walk this earth, dude.

It's a brilliant song.

(cheers and applause)

That song ain't got nothingto do with America.

That entire song,"Livin' in America"

is a secret messageto black folks.

All you gotta do, listento the end of the song.

Very endof "Livin' in America,"

all James Brown do is juststart naming cities.

That's it, end of the song.

♪ Livin' in America

♪ New Orleans,Detroit City ♪

♪ Dallas, Pittsburgh

♪ Kansas City, Atlanta

He just naming safe placesfor black folks.

That's-- that's it.

That's all he did!

He wrote a song about America,

and then at the endtold black people specifically

where to go rent an apartment.

He was just...

♪ Livin' in America

♪ But only here in Detroit,in Pittsburgh ♪

"New York City, Kansas City,that's all--

"Don't go nowhere else.

Don't you go nowhereother than that."