July 16, 2016

Father's Children - Dirt and Grime

Father's Children. Source: http://www.audacemag.com

Dirt and grime and filth inside - the story of my lifetime.

The words echo through the intro of Kanye’s Facts from his latest effort The Life of Pablo. The song in itself is not one of his masterpieces, but it’s impossible to not get enchanted by the sample testifies of a lifetime of misery and the sample is slowed down for an even more haunting effect. The story takes us to the American east coast and musical history that was stuck in a garage for almost four decades.

Ha, ha, ha, look how far we are.

Stemming from Adams Morgan, a culturally diverse neighborhood in Northwest Washington, D.C., founded at the end of 1960s, a three-man doo-wop group was singing to get off the streets. Initially named the Dreams, the band added a fourth member and picked up instrument to form a tight band with mostly original content written by its vocalist Nicholas Smith. As the members joined the black Islam movement, the focus shifted from doo-wop to funk concerned with its own time and the Dreams became Father’s Children.

After establishing themselves as a skillful, in-demand live band also outside the D.C. area, Father’s Children entered the studio to record the material honed during the years prior. Filled with smooth funk and soulful harmonies in songs with religious and political messages that captured the times perfectly, Who’s Gonna Save the World might have become a time stamp album essential to all funk collections today, but it wasn’t to be. As the band’s management company folded, the group was unable to obtain a record deal to get the album released. The album’s producer, Robert Hosea Williams, unable to get a dime for his efforts, stashed it inside his garage where it would remain for decades.

Relocating to L.A. and changing both their image and sound to glossier version for the disco era, the band managed to release an album in 1979 under the Mercury label. Produced by jazz trombonist Wayne Henderson, their self-titled “debut” never managed to catch the attention of a mainstream audience (however, it has found its way to some sampling credits during later years), the band soon disbanded. Re-emerging from the garage of Robert Hosea Williams, the archival record label The Numero Group got a hold of the “lost tapes” and released Who’s Gonna Save the World.

The stand out track of the album, Dirt and Grime, tells the story of a segregated society and the need to fight for freedom. Set to a slow funky groove, reminiscent of a reggae tune, the track utilizes the harmonies perfected by the group during their formative years. Four years later, in Kanye’s new year's track release Facts, later appearing on his seventh solo album The Life of Pablo, the song’s first verse serves as both intro and outro.

We means me and me seeks free. 

Discogs (Father's Children) 
Numero Group 
Pitchfork - Who's Gonna Save the World (album review) 
Washington Post (album review) 
Whosampled.com (Father's Children) 

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