Cornel West: Never Forget—A Journey Of Revelations

Anything put together by Dr. Cornel West is best listened to with your thinking cap on. The album Never Forget: A Journey of Revelations (Hidden Beach) is a trek through a level of consciousness usually reserved for a higher plateau of understanding. Concepts of crime, poverty and government corruption come to life at the tongues of some of music’s most prolific performers.Talib Kweli further solidifies his place in the hall of fame of lyrical geniuses on the song “Bushonomics.” Each sentence will evoke wheels to involuntarily turn in your head as he spits lines like, “Revolution requires participation but sometimes people be hesitating.” Soft piano keys compliment rather than down play the message. The uniqueness of this track is that upon closer listen, you will find that both Talib and West (who offers his own words on Hip-Hop’s true meaning of freedom rather than money cars and chains) are in the business of uplifting. Instead of merely preaching about what is wrong with the state of black America, intricate word play unveils a deeper meaning that can most easily be found in the chorus line—“It’s like a jungle sometimes, I’m at the front of the line, I aint trippin’ but I stumble sometime. Then I get right back up.” Throughout the record many tracks make for an unlikely teaming between Cornel West and artists from both the Hip-Hop and the R&B/ Soul world. As each artist speaks their peace, West speaks his. Of course his words do not come in the form of a rap but instead are delivered via powerful spoken word messages. Of the most exciting features on the album is the song “Dear Mr. Man” with Prince. Yes, Prince. The song is a throwback to Prince during his days of publicly expressing his dislike against his label by writing the word ‘Slave’ on his cheek. While it has nothing to do with the record industry (specifically), the message is rooted in Prince’s funky way of using his electric guitar to get any point across. “Dear Mr. Man, we don’t understand why folks keep struggling, but you don’t lend a helping hand.” The smoother than smooth horns and snare beat will give you goose bumps yet hold you just long enough to get a message to your ears. The use of the N-Word is brought to the forefront by the track of the same name. Due to the controversy surrounding this subject it’s fitting that the topic is discussed between West, Michael Eric Dyson, and Tavis Smiley. Though they differ in opinion on aspects of the word’s use, this is far from verbal sparring. While Dyson acknowledges West’s thoughts towards the degradation of the n-word no matter who uses it, he also speaks to how many believe that the difference in spelling changes the words meaning. Other tracks feature a fluid flow by Rhymfest on “Welcome to Chi” as well as Jill Scott’s “What Time it Is,” which of course has nothing to do with a clock. Never Forget: A Journey of Revelations is among Dr. Cornel West’s most powerful work because it reaches a demographic that may not be familiar with his books or other professional work. Instead of placing a barrier against the Hip-Hop community, he has joined it. Proving not only that he is a genius, but that the same community that gets so much flack for a lack of substance in their music, is not turning a blind eye to the injustices taking place daily in America.