On The Move: Mumia Abu-Jamal Musical Tribute

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Fair-minded people may dispute Abu-Jamal’s guilt or innocence. However, the fact that his conviction was unjust is indisputable. His case represents the grossest of violations of fairness in American jurisprudence.

[Book Review]

Mumia Abu-Jamal has been on Death Row since 1982, convicted in a sham trial of the killing of Philadelphia Officer Daniel Faulkner.

His importance to the Black community and those fighting injustice and oppression is invaluable, as exemplified by a magnificent musical tribute from a collection of artists on a new two- disc Black Waxx collaborative production entitled: “On The Move.”

Other musicians have done tributes in the past to Mumia. But Black Waxx has compiled an impressive list filled with headline performers and ground-breaking up-and-comers, on this great album.

Black Waxx, run by Shawna Glover and Tylon “Usaviour” Washington, is also responsible for the groundbreaking documentary film “Disappearing Voices: The Decline of Black Radio.” This album has legendary artists such as Public Enemy, Abiodun Oyewole of the Last Poets and Black rock group In Living Color. Jazz fusion standout Kafele Bandele; Neo-Soul singer Nana Soul and rappers Immortal Technique, Hasan Salaam and Kahlil Khan are part of a well rounded musical tour de force honoring Mumia.

Abu-Jamal known as “the voice of the voiceless” has been labeled the “best known Death-Row prisoner in the world."

Organizations like the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch; as well as countless celebrities and community leaders have long protested the unjust and unfair proceedings in Abu-Jamal’s case. 

Many people maintain that the award-winning journalist was framed for his activist-oriented journalism background as a former Black Panther Minister of Information. This included penetrating exposes on political corruption in Philadelphia and on that city’s war against the MOVE Organization, a back-to nature group, who had their compound reduced to rubble in a bomb blast sanctioned by former Philadelphia Mayor Wilson Goode, in 1985. 

Activists and reporters, like Philadelphia journalist Lynn Washington, have highlighted many discrepancies and outrages in Mumia Abu Jamal’s case like: witness tampering, coerced testimony and the overturning of at least one legal precedent, now know as the “Mumia Exception,” which, as Washington said, is the practice “of judges craftily changing precedent to exclude extending Abu-Jamal the legal relief given to other defendants raising the same legal issues.” 

Moreover, presiding Judge Albert Sabo is known to have stated that he was going to help prosecutors “fry the nigger.”

Fair-minded people may dispute Abu-Jamal’s guilt or innocence. However, the fact that his conviction was unjust is indisputable. His case represents the grossest of violations of fairness in American jurisprudence. Based on that—not to mention his 30 years on Death Row—he should be released forthwith, as this CD, “On The Move” advocates.

This two-disc Black Waxx production is jump-started, on disc one labeled: “Freedom Side,” by an audio collage of voices articulating in defense of Mumia in a track done by The Hard Wash. This is followed by Public Enemy with a radical tune entitled “Revolution,” which adeptly uses a sample of deceased Reggae star Dennis Brown’s song “Revolution.”

Neo-Soul crooner Nana Soul takes off flying high in “Electric Company,” bringing her sultry, soulful style while declaring “I’m the revolution in real life.”

Future Jazz-Fusion star Kafele Bandele next enters the mix bringing his exemplary skill, as a trumpeter, on a composition which says it all “Set Me Free.” Bandele plays with a smooth gracefulness reminiscent of past Jazz greats and this piece, one of my favorites on the album, bears witness to that. Poet Latisha Divine rounds out the first half of this disc with a poem called “Poetic In Just Us.”

Poet-Rapper Kahlil Khan continues this disc with the militantly scorching “B.U.C.K. P.I.G.S,” which makes clever use of excerpts from Malcolm X’s “End Police Brutality” speech, including a quote where Malcolm declares “we will never forget.” The song’s clear stance against police brutality is unmistakable. 

Maya Azucena follows with “I Live On.”  Legendary wordsmith, Abiodun Oyewole, of the incomparable Last Poets, delivers an enthralling verse “Black Light.” The Freedom Side CD is rounded out by the Voice of The Children on “Brick by Brick” and the stirring number “Thief” by Yaw.

The second CD, Justice Side, starts with the uplifting, inspirational “No Fear,” by Stephanie Rice. The song’s title and lyrics encapsulates Mumia’s fearlessness in the face of the shadow of death that has hung over him for over thirty years.

Rap group Spiritchild follows with “Stay Awake.”  Filipino songstress Melinda Davis then steps in with her folksy, melodic style in “A Brighter Shade of New.” Davis, playing her acoustic guitar, is reminiscent of old-school of folk singers.

Rapper Hasan Salaam explodes with one of the best tracks on this great album entitled “Mind is Free.” The haunting lyricism on this track represents Hip Hop at its finest. Although this song is one of the album’s shortest, Mr. Hasan masterfully manages to say a great many things about American racism, political prisoners, and the criminal injustice system.

Jazz veteran, Fred Ho next offers a 12-minute eclectic composition called “Mumia’s Suite.” The track “Ode to the Boom Bap” by Sasoon is followed by In Living Color’s “Sacred Ground.”

Peruvian-born rap revolutionary Immortal Technique explodes like dynamite in the remix version of “In Time.” Immortal Technique is without question one of the most radically thought provoking rappers around today. The last song on this musical masterpiece is entitled “Sometimes” by Res and ends with “In His own Words” by Mumia.

Black Waxx, with their “On The Move” CD has attained musical mastery adding to the resistance struggle to free Mumia Abu Jamal and all political prisoners. On the Move.

For more information about this 95-minute double CD log on to www.blackwaxx.com.
For more information about Mumia Abu Jamal log on to the following websites

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