Hot! Hot! Hot! This is the only way to describe the new album that pays tribute to Sly and the Family Stone Originally started by a radio personality, Sylvester Stewart had the vision to create music which spoke of the racial injustices prevalent in the sixties and seventies. Sly’s recruitment of musicians including Cynthia Robinson, Jerry Martini, Rosie Stone, Freddie Stone, Greg Errico, and Larry Graham not only marked the first time that black and white musicians came together to form a group, but it also mixed the popular genre’s of rock, R&B, and funk. Sly and the Family Stone used music to unify blacks with whites, males with females. Loved by every social strata, the group wrote socially conscious songs such as “Don’t Call me Nigger, Whitey” and “Hot Fun in the Summertime”, which highlighted the racial tensions of the hottest season.
Different Strokes By Different Folks recreates the same magic of the sixties while altering the beat to suit more contemporary genres. This album serves the dual task of providing hot beats to dance to as well as spiritual uplift with its lyrics. The new version of the Family Stone includes such popular artists as The Roots, John Legend, John Mayer, and Janet Jackson and is nothing short of a family affair. Just like in the sixties, listeners are showered with eclectic genres of music. The connection between the sixties and today which gives me the reassurance that music never changes, it just evolves. I’m not sure if it’s the combination of musical all-stars, the beats, or the inspirational lyrics but the album is a must.
My favorite tracks include “Dance To The Music,” “Everday People” and “Star,” particularly because they include the lovable beats of today’s hip-hop without the degrading lyrics that pervade most rap songs. All of the lyrics translate into messages of love, constraints, family, or just having fun. Different Strokes uses music as a tool to emphasize the social upheavals around the world, for example: “There is a yellow one that won’t accept the black one that won’t accept the red one that won’t accept the white one.” the music uses the phrase “different strokes by different folks” to stress the need for diversity. Its combinations of the old and the new gives it a unique flavor you won’t find anywhere else.