Oscar Brown, Jr.: But I Was Cool
But I Was Cool
Oscar Brown, Jr. (vocals)
Sin & Soul … and Then Some (Columbia/Legacy CK 64994)
other musicians not identified by track.
Composed by Oscar Brown Jr.
Recorded: New York, October 22, 1960
Rating: 95/100 (learn more)
His recitative anticipated rap by a decade, but Oscar Brown Jr. was a far more serious artist than the gold-digging, foulmouthed rappers. His songs were erudite minidramas (or, as here, minicomedies), passionately informed by history's injustices to African Americans. What saved them from polemics was his sense of humanity. In writing about the plight of blacks in America, Brown powerfully evoked, as did Tolstoy in writing about individual families, the universal in the particular. In a land of the blind, goes an old saying, the one-eyed man is king. By keeping both eyes wide, Oscar Brown opens ours as well.
Reviewer: Alan Kurtz
Tags: social protest