NYU Black Renaissance Noire NYU Black Renaissance Noire V. 16.1 - Page 77

Black Voices on the Streets of Watts Talmadge Spratt had asked us to do this record, and the record company was Laugh Records. Actually, it was ala Records, and Laugh Records was putting out a bunch of records by Richard Pryor and Redd Foxx and all these kind of cats. They were trying to capitalize on what was happening at the same time with the Last Poets on the East Coast. The Last Poets had just come out and people were picking up on it. It was a hip thing. So this record company saw this as a way to capitalize on these black voices and make some money. They had the recording thing set up and had to recruit somebody else. They recruited Amde of the soon-to-be Watts Prophets, and they recruited this dramatist/artist Ed Bereal, who had this group called the Bodacious Buguerrillas, and Odie Hawkins and Emory Evans did it. They had Greg playing saxophone, I guess, in the background, and he wasn’t really a saxophone player. My opinion of the piece was that it was something that was thrown together. It wasn’t really representative of a well-thought out project, although it was a good document of Father Amde’s work. It was representative of what he was actually doing and putting out at the time. Later on, it became important, because it was a document of Watts during that time. Then a lot of the young rappers started picking up on it, sampling it. It helped with the careers of people like Father Amde. The Watts Prophets, who came out of the Watts Writers Workshop, piggy-backed the relationship they had with that recording company and did Rappin’ Black in a White World. It was all early Seventies stuff. And it was equivalent to what was happening in the Eighties and Nineties with the rappers, where you ha d the East Coast rappers and West Coast rappers. You had the same thing with the East Coast poets and the West Coast poets. BLACK RENAISSANCE NOIRE kd: This guy named Talmadge Spratt, really a strange cat, was the one that had summoned us together to do this album Black Voices on the Streets of Watts. At the time, they wanted me, a lady named Fatisha, who was part of the Voices of ugmaa. Her brother is Craig Hutson, who was a photographer for ugmaa. It was me, Fatisha, Odie Hawkins, who’s a novelist, and Emory Evans. And they asked Ojenke, but he wasn’t coming. Ojenke — organizational efforts and stuff like that, where it sounds like you’re joining something or officialdom, that wasn’t his thing. We went and had a rehearsal. And they had this guy, an artist, Greg Edwards, who is a visual artist, but he had a saxophone. He’s the brother of Mel Edwards, a renowned sculptor who married Jayne Cortez. So, it was some stuff that was really thrown together. We went to this rehearsal and were trying to piece something together. All of us brought poetry. And then Fatisha had an uncle, or somebody close to her, who was an attorney, and she had him check out the contract. They were going to give us a hundred dollars advance per person, which for an eighteen, nineteen year-old back in the Seventies, a hundred dollars was a hundred dollars, but it wasn’t much money. Then the cost of the production, the engineering and all that, would go against the artists. Plus, it was like five or seven years where you couldn’t do anything else with anybody else. So, it was pretty much like some slavery shit. I said fuck this, man, I don’t want to do nothing with these folks anyway. Because of the history of exploitation, I was so mistrustful of anybody who wasn’t black. So, me and Fatisha, we didn’t do it. 75 si: Were you involved in the recording of Black Voices on the Streets of Watts?