Living Colour hit the world with a mix of art and music that hadn’t really been heard before in 1986. From jazz fusion, punk rock, Delta blues and hip hop to funk and thrash metal they were a band that refused to be labeled, refused to be tame. From playing in Lollapalooza in arguably it’s best year in 1991 to the artistically minded creative mecca of CBGB’s in the 80’s. They were a force of nature and after three full length records in 1995 they split up and the world was a little worse off until their reunion. Now they’ve a new record coming out September 8th, 2017 entitled Shade. You can even catch a couple of the tunes before the album comes out one of them being a cover of Notorious B.I.G.’s tune “Who shot ya”. We had a chance to talk to Will Calhoun about what to expect from the new record and what it means to be a black artist in a climate that can only be defined as tumultuous. Police brutality seems to be more and more present in this day and age as a result of access to technology we asked Will about how he sees the situation and how it effects him and his community and how that relates to what they have to say about the world through their art.
“Police brutality in our community never left. It’s like Dr. King’s scenario when black people were being beat and hosed and dogs sicked on them and that generation wasn’t on television, it wasn’t until Kennedy sent troops down there and people didn’t believe it was happening. What made the civil rights thing more on the table and more real is when people saw it on the news. For a long time that stuff never made the news. What my uncle told me and my parents told me it wasn’t on television. It was the political climate and Kennedy finally saying somethings got to be done. King had all these marches and when people saw children being bitten by dogs and women getting hosed down and guys getting beat by police sticks then it was like ‘oh s–t.’ Do you think people would have believed what happened to this guy in California that was hit 52 times in 80 seconds or whatever it was? Would anyone have believed Rodney King if video wasn’t on television that he was beat that bad and that many times? I would say that most people wouldn’t but people in my community would! The video made people realize ‘oh, look at what’s going on here.’ It’s been going on, nothing is new under the sun when it comes to that sort of thing. Look at all these crimes police are doing now that are caught on cameras, the guy who filmed the murder of the brother who was selling cigarettes in Staten Island, went to jail. The guy who filmed it went to jail! The cops didn’t get prosecuted. The Puerto Rican guy that filmed that, they dug something up on him and locked him up. So that’s the reality of the situation. It’s not new. It’s a fact.”
Its difficult at times for us living in this beautiful beach side community to think about the bigger picture, those in comfort may have a little harder time looking at those who may have less. Living Colour never backs down from the belief that we need to do better, we need to BE better people, A new track(and my personal favorite) of the new album Always Wrong really expresses the pain and isolation and what that means to relationships or to being a human being on the outside of what other people see.
Always wrong could be you being a male, could be you being a person of color, or being cross gendered . “I think the Always Wrong syndrome is more common now that it was when we were a based in our youth. A lot of things get pointed at you , a lot of situations of existence like failure and debt that are pointed at you now. I think its become in a surface stage more difficult to survive. Spiritually I think its the same but, academically its become more difficult to survive. Always Wrong is sometimes something that sort of puts you in that area of never succeeding and punishment.” says Calhoun.
This album has the chance and the strength to really make a difference in a lot of peoples lives, to me growing up music was survival and in many ways it still is. There are certain realities that we all must face sooner or later and sometimes the courage to do that comes from the people who inspire us, consider me duly inspired. Make sure to give the new record “Shade” a listen on Sept. 8th. You can check some remixes and a couple of the singles out already to get you excited on Spotify.