Oscar Brown, Jr.: But I Was Cool


But I Was Cool


Oscar Brown, Jr. (vocals)


Sin & Soul and Then Some (Columbia/Legacy CK 64994)

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Oscar Brown, Jr. (vocals), Joe Wilder (trumpet),

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


  • 1 mike // Feb 19, 2008 at 09:12 PM
    im doin my project on him...:-0
  • 2 Will // May 28, 2008 at 11:40 AM
    Oscar Brown was great, but to say he is a more serious artist than todays rappers is incorrect. Personally I'd rather eat my own toenail clippings than fire up the gramophone for a sesh listening to gangster rap, but the few times I've been exposed to hip hop stuff via friends (which isn't all blood and guts, by definition), I've been surprised at how funny it can be. There is a direct lineage from Oscar Brown to that sort of stuff. Check out the self deprecating humour on 'Ugly Brothers' by Dj Format and Abdominal to see what I mean ;)