Many times we don’t want to listen to old heads when we know what they say is right. Bill Cosby has been holding a mirror to Black America over the last few years and rightfully so as teenage pregnancy, high school drop out rates and murders like that of Derrion Albert seem to become normal.
Now stepping into the music genre again, the famed comedian and Black activist plans to rekindle Hip-Hop’s socially conscious flame on “Bill Cosby Presents the Cosnarati: State of Emergency,” an album of music with messages reflecting today’s most critical issues affecting young people.
Created to engage listeners and lead them to take action, the CD’s empowering and dialogue-provoking themes will be spread throughout the Internet via the comedian/actor/author’s extensive social media network and an interactive new web site, billcosby.com, designed to build a grassroots campaign of activist-led house parties and town halls.
On Oct. 19, Cosby and the Cosnarati Band will kick off the project with a virtual town hall meeting in New York City. Presented in association with Ustream, the town hall starts at 7pm EDT (4pm PDT) on urban radio station web sites across the country as well as billcosby.com and facebook.com/billcosby. A highlight of the 90-minute event will include a first time ever performance by Cosnarati specifically for the town hall event of a few songs from the record. The songs will be available at digital retailers on Oct. 20, to be followed by the album’s Nov. 24 physical and digital release.
During the town hall, Cosby will simultaneously relaunch billcosby.com—supported by Blue State Digital, a leading online marketing agency—and announce the house party campaign. Visitors to the site will be able to obtain the “Emergency” CD, its lyrics and a copy of Cosby’s 2007 best-seller, “Come On People: On the Path From Victims to Victors.” It’s all part of a grassroots effort to foster ongoing community dialogue and action by way of listening parties held at homes, community centers, churches and other locales.
Cosby executive produced the project and conceived the songs’ story concepts.
“I don’t like referring to the music as ‘clean,” says Cosby, who does not rap or sing on the album. “What I like is what you’re not going to do. You’re not going to curse. You’re not going to put women down. You’re not going to put the glory of the gun somewhere. And you’re not going to put a whole lot of violence up front like that’s the thing that will cleanse you and make you feel better.”
Two years in the making, “State of Emergency” adds new meaning to the phrase “message in the music.” Tackling such social issues as self-respect, peer pressure, abuse and education, the CD is the aural companion to Cosby’s “Come on People,” co-authored with Dr. Alvin F. Poussaint. The project’s 14 tracks integrate frank, positive messages with a progressive mix of hip-hop, R&B, jazz, pop, funk and rock. The result is a strong, cohesive narrative that doesn’t rely on profanity, misogyny, materialism or ego exercising to deliver its powerful impact.
“State of Emergency” was produced by Cosby’s longtime musical colleague, William “Spaceman” Patterson. The musician/arranger’s extensive list of credits include “The Cosby Show,” Miles Davis, LL Cool J, Eric Clapton and Alicia Keys. In addition to his production partner Ced-Gee, co-founder of the pioneering hip-hop group Ultramagnetic MCs, Patterson recruited three guest rappers for “State of Emergency”: Jace the Great, Brother Hahz and Supa Nova Slom.
Brother Hahz and Jace the Great set the stage on the opening title track, which features a no-holds-barred chorus: “Let the horns blow; it’s a state of emergency/This whole world needs surgery/Every soul breeds perjury/And I got the urge to speak my mind.”
Other standout tracks include the New Orleans-jazzed “Where’s the Parade?,” which salutes powerful black women; the introspective “Where Did I Go Wrong?”; the funky yet hard-hitting “Dad’s Behind the Glass”: and the R&B-empowered “Get on Your Job.”
“We want people to receive ’State of Emergency’ the way we made it: as a gift; an opportunity for dialogue between children and parents and an alternative to the cookie-cutter sound that’s out here. Hopefully, we can tear down some walls and be part of the solution, not the problem.”
By using the universal language of music, “Bill Cosby Presents the Cosnarati: State of Emergency” delivers a powerful wakeup call—one that everyone should heed.
“Do me a favor,” adds Cosby. “Just listen. Please.”