Saturday, January 12, 2008
So, I'm sitting, working with my internet disconnected listening to Talib Kweli's " Happy Home" featuring Candice Anderson off his MySpace album with Madlib, called Liberation. "Happy Home" is a pretty cool song that tells the story of Kweli's family going back to his grandparents and how his parents met. This is my umpteenth and a gazillionth time listening to this song, and it is pretty high up in my most played I Tunes list. This time, I caught something else in the lyrics "Back in the day it was hard for black actors/ They had to lighten their skin with Max Factor/ But my grandfather Stan wasn't Nothing But a Man,"when discussing his paternal grandfather. I've usually paused on the Max Factor part, in sheer amazement at their hold on the entertainment history in that time period (watch the credits of an I Love Lucy episode) but this time my ears picked up something different. He slipped in the great and oft-forgotten Ivan Dixon movie "Nothing But a Man."
"Nothing But a Man" is a great 1960s movie about black people, directed by and starring the great black actor Ivan Dixon. Admittedly its a little rough, but it was a budget movie in the 60s, what do you want???? Unfortunately Discon became most famous for being an assembly line worker/Sgt. in Hogan's Heroes. However, he was also involved in awesome projects that are Vanity Dark recommended like the movie version of "The Spook Who Sat By The Door" and "A Raisin in the Sun." For a Wiki on Dixon click here and for information on "Nothing But A Man" click here. Get up on that history.
But back to Talib...
So I do a little research. Talib Kweli's last name is Greene and according to IMDB, there is a Stanley Greene in the movie who played quite the prominent role as the Reverend.
This is an exciting find and indeed a great moment in pop culture history. Talib has quite family tree. NYU educated parents, actors, and afros all settled down in Brooklyn. Hot [Thing]. I really appreciate how he wove that bit of pop culture history into the story line. For me, that's genius. It also makes more sense now that Talib was at NYU studying theater (you must hear him joke about him being the one with the education and Mos Def being the one with all the movie roles...lol).
Sigh, I'm too excited about this and not excited enough about the symbiotic yet disadvantageous relationship between social movements and the media.