On the political-debate circuit this spring, Statehood Green Party D.C. Council candidate Perry Redd has mostly used his time to discuss the woes of Washington’s underclass in an era of rapid gentrification—-an important perspective, if one that has occasionally veered into iffy hyperbole. But in addition to his campaigning and a long career as an activist, Redd is a songwriter—-one who says he’s got a catalog of “well over 2,000 compositions.” In the unlikely event that Washingtonians elect Redd the candidate next Tuesday—-in a recent PPP poll of registered voters, only 2 percent said they were voting for him—-they’ll also be getting Redd the outsider musician. Fortunately, Redd’s songs tell us a lot about his politics.
First, some background: According to his website, Redd led the band Reddex in the 1980s and 1990s, first in D.C. and later in Knoxville, Tenn. He’s also recorded solo albums since the mid-’80s and runs a recording and video production studio that has very reasonable rates. A survey of his recent musical work—-some of which Redd has posted to YouTube and MySpace and iTunes—-reveals some often intriguing, charmingly lo-fi, and largely politically themed fusions of electro-funk, reggae, protest folk, R&B, and hip-hop. The knotty, seriously funky “Organize” is my favorite of the bunch. Here are five more:
“Bombs Over Tripoli”
I appreciate the vaguely Middle Eastern-sounding g-funk sound, as well as the media-crit approach: “I read the Times, I read the Post,” Redd sings. “Who reports the story, who’s running the most?” Redd is against the 2011 American air assault on regime targets in the Libyan capital: “How can I be proud of the land of the free,” he raps, “when I’m watching it bomb another country?”
“I Am Troy Davis”
A synthetic gospel ballad. But Redd sees a silver lining to the execution of Troy Davis. “I lived to witness yet another amazing event…in America,” he writes in the YouTube description. I saw people—-of all races, religions and classes—-band together to give one more minute of life to a man condemned to death.”
“Life As A Black Man (Living in America)”
Redd’s survey of America’s systemic racism is epic enough to deserve a bigger budget. Seriously.
“To Be My Wife”
The case against marriage.
Hey, at least this is better than some other Occupy songs.