There’s a generation of African-American culture writers – journalists, critics, authors – who owe their professional success to hip-hop. They documented that cultural revolution in real time.
But those writers, now in their 40s, grew up on ’70s soul music. And they kept an ear on the larger world of pop.
For that generation, the passing of Michael Jackson has an impact greater than the loss of James Brown, Richard Pryor... any other entertainment icon you can think of.
These black writers have childhood memories of Motown 45s and LPs. Jackson 5 records were probably among the first they bought with their own money. Maybe they unwrapped one or two under the family Christmas tree.
Their high school and college years coincided with the nuclear blasts of “Off the Wall” and “Thriller.” They rode along on Michael’s entire journey as contemporaries. And so Michael belonged to them.
Two such writers – Harry Allen and Michael Gonzales (pictured above) – shared their thoughts and feelings about Michael Jackson on the radio last Friday. This happened on Harry Allen’s weekly program, “Nonfiction,” on New York’s WBAI.
I’m streaming an 8-minute excerpt on my Vox blog. Click here to listen.
If you want to stream or download the entire hourlong show, follow this link to the WBAI archives and look for the June 26 episode of “Nonfiction.”