An everlasting omnipresence is my present
State of being, seeing the unpleasant
Sight of righteous souls live like peasants
The mind stunts growth in adolescence
My insight enables me to enlight
The weakest of minds, and I put em in flight
As I transcend, a-scend or de-scend
Re-create, re-incarnate and re-send
The powerful spirits of our ancestors
For those that don't know how God blessed us
Because man messed up, the media dressed up
Lies perpetrated as truth, and it left us
Confused, but I've seen it all before
From Babylon to the Third World War
I'm more than a man, I'm more like an entity
Back on the block, and this time my identity
Is the Dude
I'm listening to this album and it strikes me as exactly the sort of thing that somebody like me took just a bit too seriously. Yeah I knew it was fun. Fun like coming out a Spike Lee movie and fronting. At this distance it marks the era properly - just a few years after the invention of the term 'African American' at the birth of multiculturalism and Afrocentrism and the death of Soul. Mark Anthony Neal writes of the Post-Soul Generation. I mark Back on the Block as the divider.
As a milestone this Quincy Jones album cannot be denied and I'm coming to think of it as the last 'black cast' event. The moment at which the baton was passed from the elders of the prior forms to the new jacks. The title track could stand as the last time that Jesse Jackson was literally given the last word. The album won album of the year and seven Grammys, reprised some popular cuts redone in the double cut percussion of the new jack swing.
I can remember the end of the Apartheid Era and the beginning of American gospel choirs singing as if they were in the cast of Sarafina! There is that bold new confidence in this album, this becoming emblematic of the potential of that thing we called the New World Afrikan Diaspora. I can remember wincing at the possible mispronounciation of Dizzy Gillespie's name by Big Daddy Kane in his introduction to the cover of Zawinul's Birdland, did he or did he not drop the baton? It had to have that iconic perfection.
Alas poor Tevin Campbell. It was impossible for the kid to compete with the big boys in the market. It's a joy to hear that innocence, but despite the superstar backing, he couldn't compete with the new jacks coming out of Philly, the East Coast Family.
But what an album.