Author: Nelson George

  • Marvin Gaye: The Power and the Glory

    1984 Village Voice article by Nelson George about Marvin Gaye

    March 1983 — In the motel’s living room two women in their late 30s, wearing much too much makeup, and clothes too tight covering too much flesh, hovered over a hot plate, concerned that everything would taste right “for him.” In the bedroom, behind closed doors, dressed in a robe and stocking cap, his face […]

  • Rakim and Eric B: Hyper as a Heart Attack

    It is my contention that William Griffin, better known as Eric B.’s rapper, Rakim, a 19-year-old resi­dent of Wyandanch, Long Island, with an interest in Islam, is the deffest rapper around. But before prais­ing Rakim a digression is in order. Too many people who profess to like rap don’t distinguish among its many historic and […]

  • Willie Randolph: The Brownsville Bomber

    1986 article in the Village Voice about Will Randolph, the Brownsville Bomber, by Nelson George

    Summer 1974. Past the hopscotch question mark and to the left of the skelly court was a pitch­ing rubber drawn in white chalk. During the course of your average Brownsville summer it moved around a bit, but basi­cally it stayed about 70 feet from the concrete barrel that served double duty as funhouse and backstop. […]

  • Michael Jordan: B-Ball Buppie

    Alone with the tube in a hotel room in Antigua the night the NBA season starts. Most of the Black Entertainment & Sports Lawyers Association conference attendees are on a Jolly Roger pseudo-­pirate ship circling the island, savoring seafood, dancing with the CPAs from L.A., or networking with the handsome sports agent from Denver under […]

  • Rappin’ With Russell Simmons

    Eddie-Murphying the Flak Catchers The offices of Rush Productions are two cramped little rooms on Broadway in the 20s, which on any given afternoon are filled by the loud voices of black men and women. They are mostly young, real street and real anxious. On this day in January a graffiti artist sits in one […]

  • A Time Line to Post-Soul Black Culture

    Muhammad Ali and Sade for Nelson George article Post-Soul Culture

    1971  ■ MELVIN VAN PEEBLES’s Sweet Sweetback’s Baad­asssss Song premieres in Detroit in March, signaling a new direction in African American film and culture. Directed guerrilla-style in Watts, it ridicules SIDNEY POITIER’s ultra-assimilated image, instigates Holly­wood’s blaxploitation era, and projects rebellious black heroism in visual terms that will echo in pop music iconography 20 years […]

  • Buppies, B-Boys, Baps & Bohos

    The Complete History of Post-Soul Culture: Buppies, B-Boys, Baps & Bohos March 17, 1992 IT MIGHT HAVE BEEN WHEN mobile DJs began rocking Kraftwerk’s Trans-Europe Express in 1977 or when WBLS’s slogan shifted from “the total black experience in sound” to “the total experience in sound” to “the world’s best-looking sound.” Or when dressing down […]

  • Hiphop Nation: America Raps Back

    Nationwide: America Raps Back January 19, 1988 Record Industry types used to ask me, “How long will this rap thing last?” They don’t any longer. Not when three different hip hop tours played to near-capacity crowds at sports arenas and concert halls across America last summer. Not when they can look at Billboard’s black album chart […]

  • Black History Month: Post-Soul Culture Circa 1992

    When did it happen? Was it when “Richard Pryor’s blues-based life experience humor gave way to Eddie Murphy’s telegenic, pop-culture–oriented joking”? Or was it when “DJs began rocking Kraftwerk’s ‘Trans-Europe Express’ ”? In the March 17, 1992, issue of the Voice, contributor Nelson George surveyed the “post-soul” landscape and discovered that, “as a musical genre, a […]

  • A Wise Man’s Brill Building

    “A House Is Not a Home” was originally recorded by Dionne Warwick in the ’60s, when she served as the muse for Brill Building sophisticates Burt Bacharach and Hal David. Warwick’s precise yet graceful enunciation, which was perfect for negotiating Bacharach’s knotty melodies, captured the yearning romanticism of the tune. In the ’80s Luther Vandross, […]