5/20/20

Lord Brothers - By Every Means Necessary Vol. 1

It'd be futile to try and write about By Every Means Necessary Vol. 1 without also writing about the program for which this music was composed, Who Killed Malcolm X? And it'd be dismissive to merely categorize the latter as a true-crime docu-series without acknowledging the show's subtext. Yes, the documentarian's search for the truth about Malcolm X's murder is the underlying premise, but perhaps an even larger conflict at hand is reconciling a crucial legacy of black empowerment and message of self-determination with an enduring hyprocrisy of dogmatic totalitarianism and decades of institutionalized scapegoating. More than a plot point, it's a mood, a slow burn that sears far nastier than any simple murder mystery arc.

The series soundtrack, composed by 39-year songwriting partners Prince Paul and Don Newkirk and released on Needle To the Groove records as By Every Means Necessary Volume 1, captures that mood and heightens that tension by elucidating stakes even higher than life and death. Also, like the series, the soundtrack is not prisoner to genre conventions; instead, it showcases the universality of Don and Paul's musical sensiblities as well as the depth of the crates that helped these composers hone their chops. And then there are the lyrics. On "The Hilton," vocal accompanist Saleem says, "The third world war? It's about the revolution of the spirit. Religion is anti-revolutionary. Revolution: what goes around comes around, again and again. If there's one thing I know about revolution, it's inevitable. Televised or not, it's just a matter of time. Are you ready for the inevitable?" It's not the first project Paul and Don have scored together, and it definiteley shouldn't be the last (this is Volume 1 after all!), but it just might be the most important one.

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