The 24-Carat Black – Ghetto: Misfortune’s Wealth (1973/2018)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/192 kHz | Time – 57:24 minutes | 2,12 GB | Genre: Funk, Soul
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download | Booklet, Front Cover | © Concord Records
A one-off concept album that’s a big fat Soul-R&B gem: Craft Recordings will reissue the definitive version of one of the most ambitious, groundbreaking records in the Stax catalog: The 24-Carat Black Ghetto: Misfortune’s Wealth. Composed, arranged, and produced almost entirely by longtime Isaac Hayes collaborator Dale Warren, the album draws marked comparisons to the lush, transformative arrangements penned by Warren for the seminal trio of Hayes albums, Hot Buttered Soul, The Isaac Hayes Movement, and …To Be Continued. Often cited as one of the first concept albums in the soul, funk and R&B genres at a time when such boldly artistic statements were reserved for progressive rock bands like Pink Floyd, this ‘soul opera,’ featuring just eight tracks, is an entrancing mixture of lush, orchestral soul ballads and Blaxploitation-era funk grooves, split into vignettes dealing with aspects of everyday life in some of America’s poorest areas. Its unique blend of immaculately arranged grooves and socially conscious narrative launched the album into cult-classic status among DJs and producers who have sampled it for tracks, most recently by Kendrick Lamar, Jay Z, Digable Planets, Dr. Dre, and many others.
1973, Ghetto: Misfortune’s Wealth finds its way into stores and magnifying its release. “The pain grows deeper in the ghetto”, chanted by a voice that reverberates in the simple accompaniment of a piano, this is the opening one of the most cult and unrecognized albums of the Stax label. She is Kathleen Kent. She is part of 24-Carat Black, a collective of 25 musicians held together by the sole force of Dale Warren. Spotted in Cincinnati, where they reign supreme, the former Ditalians dream of becoming the future Diana Ross and Marvin Gaye circulated by Motown. Why did Warren believe so much in them? He left very quickly in the early beginnings of Motown to join Stax and orchestrate notably the album of Isaac Hayes (Hot Buttered Soul, The Isaac Hayes Movement). Inexperienced, the kids from Ohio do not immediately embrace the project Warren has been carving out for them for months. In an America where the water is always murky for African-Americans, the class struggle has turned from a dead pacifism with Malcolm X to the affirmation of the black identity, with its culmination one year prior, at the Wattstax festival. “I am black, I am proud, I am beautiful, I must be respected”, shout the arena of Black Woodstock after having listening to Warren’s Salvation Symphony. With Ghetto: Misfortune’s Wealth, the conductor intends to develop the subject further.
Serious sobriety, purity without pretense, ample funk arrangements carefully decorated by his craftsmanship, the work does not tick the boxes of the commercial formula which is quickly stamped “conceptual”. With an eye clearly on the formats explored by progressive rock, its eight cleverly titled titles exercise the blues and gospel roots of black music, with it totaling 55 minutes. Synopsis One: Kathleen Kent’s uncompromising monologues about black suffering precede Princess Hearn’s gospel prayers on God Save The World. Then Hearn finds Ernest Latimore for Poverty’s Paradise, a sublime requiem stretching over twelve minutes. Valerie Malone takes care of the classy Mother’s Day and Ghetto: Misfortune’s Wealth. If the scores are already ready when they arrive in the studio, Brown-Baggin’ and 24-Carat Black will come from jam-sessions, while Foodstamps will be entirely from Warren. Possessing a rare quality, the songs draw their strength in the precocity of Carat-Black. Hearn, Malone and organist Billy Talbert were not even fifteen when they started working on the project. After six months of sleepless nights spent on rehearsals, a twelve-hour session would be enough to record everything. Only the voices would be transplanted afterwards. A year later, 24-Carat Black would separate after having conquered the crowd of the Holiday Inn Memphis. Shortly then after, Shotgun is born and the alcoholism of Warren. In his descent into a dark place, he will have time to see his work reach a cult status. A cult that will give so much to hip-hop as it is sampled by its golden age who go on to take torch, like Digable Planets, Jay-Z, Nas, RZA and even Madlib.
01. Synopsis One: In The Ghetto / God Save The World
02. Poverty’s Paradise
04. Synopsis Two: Mother’s Day
05. Mother’s Day
07. Ghetto: Misfortune’s Wealth
08. 24-Carat Black (Theme)