May 2001
Black Velveteen

Black Velveteen

By Michael A. Gonzales (New York)

Although they would never be confused with a black soul group street-corner wailing after midnight, the Brit-lit pop tarts known as Prefab Sprout once sang, "Nothing sounds as good as/I remember that." For a brother that has often been accused of living in the past, of embracing an aesthetic that some believe went outta style over twenty years past, truer words were never spoken. And, as a child of Black folk's golden age of pop-cult creativity, a former '70s rug-rat turned out by the groovalicious power of Philly International, the ghetto pulp fictions of blaxploitation flicks and the ghetto Hong Kong Phooy of Jim Kelly, remembering brings much joy.

Still, several months into the millennium chic of the 21st Century itís become even more obvious that the inspiring black print funkadelic foundation of the '70s is still being used to construct the architecture of our present-day cultural landscape. From hip-hop samples to Jet Li and RZA (dig-dat GHOST DOG soundtrack) conjuring the bad-ass spirit of Bruce Lee to the Hughes Brothers night tripping through the polluted world of pimp-daddy macks, yesterday's icons are still a part of our artistic continuum.

With Black Velveteen, a brother is on a mission: not only to flip my own old school memories like a hoodrat folklorist, but also to put into perspective how much the revolutionary sound and visions of the Superfly-era is still living large in our imaginations today. For some it will be like being schooled while riding on the Soul Train, while others can just sit back, relax and mumble to themselves, "I remember that, too."