RIP Willie Clay: Paying Homage 5 Years later.

Five years ago a close friend of mines, Willie Morris Clay, was shot to death in Oakland, Ca.

He passed on January 26th, 2006; while at least three others were shot, and one other passed; after an assailant opened fire in the intersection of 22nd ave. and East 28th st.

It was at that same intersection that friends and family gathered five years later to pay homage to the members of our community that had fallen on that fatal evening.

This is the park bench we used to sit around….

The Homies…

Beeda Weeda, an Oakland based rap artist, provides the soundtrack for the community as always…

The fuzz…

The Housing police soon closed on the festivities….

As Beeda Weeda talked to the original officer, back-up came on the scene, and the crowd dispersed.

The five-year anniversary of a tragedy in Oakland streets will go down as yet another community celebration ended by uniformed law enforcement. No one was injured and no one was arrested.

Although interrupted by intervening forces, the gathering was a time I’m sure all parties present can agree was time well spent in honor of a fallen friend. Personally, this was the first time I had been in Oakland since Will’s passing five years ago and this served as an opportunity for me to see a number of friends all at once, crack jokes, tell stories, and catch-up… as Will would have wanted.

(A full article about the deaths of Willie Clay and Marcell Campbell, as well as the deaths of a number of other teens appeared in SF GATE; And  I personally wrote an article immidietly after Willie Clay’s death called “Babies and Bullets“.)

Advertisements

From One Drum.

“How many different drum patterns do you think there are?”,  A talented producer and good friend, Jamon Dru of “The Whole Shabang” production team once asked me; I still don’t have an answer…

Jamon Dru isn’t the person you’d find burning incense, studying books on Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association, and playing a Congo while ironing his Kente cloth. Actually, your more likely to catch him producing tracks for the Bay Area’s top artist. He has produced tracks for D. Lo, Beeda Weeda, and many others; recently he composed the beat for the Messy Marv track “7 seconds flat“. And even though Jamon Dru makes beats for West Coast gangsta rap, I’d bet my favorite dashiki, that even he would agree: no matter how many different drum patterns there are, they all tell a story- a story of the African Diaspora.

On the other side of the African Diaspora is talented artist and good friend, Messiah Ramkissoon of “Royal Alliance Music Group”.  The Trinidadian artist, with the Brooklyn background and Howard University education, is a true word smith. And it shows in his craft. The highlight of his resume: 3-time Apollo winner. But this isn’t about the accolades, this is about the African Diaspora connecting through one drum. Messiah recently did a song which was crowned the winner of the Sudanese’s government’s political action competition in effort to get citizens to participate in voting in the first Democratic election in 24 years.

Messiah worked with Cheb YaCine , Al-SadProxy, Langa and video producer Nas Jota, as emcees from the states to Sudan came together for this political track titled B Sotoka (With Your Vote).

The intercontinental connection between artist within the African Diaspora is nothing new. The collaborative efforts between the Washingtonian emcee with Nigerian lineage we know as Wale, and the Somalian spitter they call K’naan has been a breath of fresh air. Wale and K’naan have done shows together, and the duo also have two collaborative songs, ” TV on The Radio” and “Um Ricka“, both songs are more than worth the listen.

Speaking of “worth the listen”, a small portion of the world is awaiting the May 18th release of the “Distant Relatives” project by Queens, NY artist Nasir “Nas” Jones, and one of the heirs to the Marley throne out of Trenchtown, Damian Marley. The highly anticipated Nas and Damien Marley album are both examples of the musical connection taking place in the African Diaspora in current popular music. Here is a dope interview by Hard Knock TV on the “Distant Relatives” project.

I listened to the tracks by Messiah, K’Naan, J-Stalin, and Damian Marley over and over, trying to answer the initial question posed to me Jamon Dru. I figured four different artists from different parts of the world would have different sounding drums. That thought didn’t last too long… not only do the drums sound alike, but the subject matter is identical : guns, drugs, jail, war, capitalism, AIDS, and the concept of “race” are just a few things that are ever-present in the African Diaspora.

In the end, Jamon Dru’s question was probably a joke or a riddle… there is infinite number of possible drum patterns… but there is no doubt that they all tell 1 story: the story of the African diaspora.