Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Black is black

On a more frivolous note... I bought a copy of Ebony magazine in Botswana, with a cover story on 'The 25 coolest brothers of all time". There were:
  • Barack Obama
  • Don Cheadle
  • Billy Dee Williams
  • Sidney Poitier
  • Quincy Jones
  • Lenny Kravitz
  • Jimi Hendrix
  • Richard Roundtree
  • Denzel Washington
  • Sammy Davis Jr
  • Bob Marley
  • Ed Bradley*
  • Tupac Shakur
  • Adam Clayton Powell Jr*
  • Gordon Parks*
  • Muhammad Ali
  • Miles Davis
  • Walt Frazier*
  • Jay-Z
  • Samuel L. Jackson
  • Malcolm X
  • Snoop Dogg
  • Prince
  • Michael Jordan
  • Marvin Gaye

Leaving aside the three or four I've never heard of (*), I'd have left out Prince and Lenny Kravitz on the grounds they both try too hard (as the article says, cool should be effortless). Snoop Dogg is just a tad too sleazy and sexist, and I'm not sure that Tupac really deserves to be singled out - I'd probably have opted for Dr Dre, just on the basis of talent.

As for omissions - Sam Cooke without a question of doubt (see above pic if you really need persuading). Michael Johnson, the athlete - not just for his remarkable running style, which always looked like a cartoon character running off the edge of a cliff, but also because he's a decent commentator these days too - and seems like a really nice guy. And while we're on athletes, how about Tommie Smith and John Carlos? Maybe John Coltrane rather than Miles Davis? And Nelson Mandela - for the shirts, as well as everything else.

And can I make a special case for Billy Ocean? No, I thought not.


Paul said...

no mention for Martin Luther King

Laban said...

Smith and Carlos ? Would you be so supportive of promoters of White Power ?

Kerry said...

Martin Luther King - great, yes - but not as cool as Malcolm X.

Black Power cf. White Power - completely different concepts. One was about fighting for equality and overcoming discrimination; the other's about supremacy and legitimising discrimination.

Sam's Neph said...

I am very much in agreement with you, Kerry. I was shocked Sam didn't make the list, especially taking into account he was raised and gained his fame in the very city Ebony is headquartered--Chicago.

Sam Cooke was a ground-breaking pioneer socially, professionally, and culturally. He did so by walking softly and carrying a big stick (not to mention a million-dollar personality and a golden voice).

I've always liked Ebony Magazine but they really dropped the ball on this one, especially when you take a look at some of the people who did make the list.

Erik Greene
Author, “Our Uncle Sam: The Sam Cooke Story From His Family's Perspective”

Glenn Vowles said...

No Stevie Wonder? He surely comes ahead of some in this list??

Kerry said...

Stevie Wonder - nice guy, some decent songs, but I think Ebony and Ivory alone disqualifies him from being counted as cool!

Glenn Vowles said...

Yes, good point! I'd forgotten Ebony and Ivory. Not one I like. Cant we just blame McCartney for that one? He wrote it after all.

Superstition, Living for the City, Boogie on Reggae Woman...brilliant harmonica and keyboard playing (sometimes simultaneously), all his influence and campaigning...number 15 in the top 100 rock and roll artists of all time

Kerry said...

I also have a soft spot for Sir Duke (the song that is).

Harry Belafonte was someone else I considered - but for his social activism, not the Banana Boat Song. And

Sam's neph - like the website. My all-time favourite film clip of Sam is in the recording studio with Muhammad Ali, or Cassius Clay as I think he still was at the time.

The Bristol Blogger said...

Ed Moses - the coolest athlete ever.

There's no bluesmen so I'll nominate Otis Rush.

And I'd put Spike on there for 'Do the right thing'

Kerry said...

And still on the subject of Stevie... You can't blame Macca for I Just Called To Say I Love You!