War (the band), its legacy continues (with interview)

War (the band), its legacy continues (with interview)

It is a known fact that today’s music hits gain their popularity based upon its beats. Whether it is Hip Hop or R&B or rock music, most popular melodies have been used over and over again. Lyricism has suffered greatly as a result, but tunes got catchier and far more entertaining. Chris Rock spoke about the sexist lyrics that are completely ignored by women in clubs as long as they flow over a danceable beat. Nas, Rakim, Dub C and dozens of other respected Hip Hop figures have also spoken on the matter. ?uestlove is busier spinning than being a drummer for The Roots. His Babies Making Babies made him more money than Game Theory. Scott Storch is torn in every direction, making beats for Mef, LL, DMX, Ice Cube and Kelis just to name a few in the past year alone. Yet, most producers, unlike Storch, do not shy away from sampling. Snoop, Kanye and Nas had multiple beat samples on the last albums, from BB King to James Brown to the music of the 70’s classic rock origins.

WAR, the band, has been known for landing their music samples to artists in many different music genres. From Janet Jackson to TLC, their hits find their current popularity in the music of today. Their hit Lowrider was even featured as the theme song in Gone in 60 seconds with Nicolas Cage and Angelina Jolie.

Is the legacy of WAR and their message, their ideals in offering the sample beats from the past? There is much more to this LA band, that has made music for the past 40 years. The message of the band, its music and its views lies in peace and harmony. While it is important to know the origins of your favorite rapper’s music, it is a far greater goal to know the origins of music itself. Influenced by bands like Animals, jamming with Hendrix on the night he died and creating the music fusion of Latin, rock, blues, jazz and reggae music, WAR created a unique music phenomenon. Using that to their advantage, WAR began to spread its messages. The song titles alone say it all. Why Can’t We Be Friends?, The World Is a Ghetto, Peace Sign and so on. Let’s not forget that their music was not out in the emancipated climate of today. 70s and 80s were not the prime years for a multi-ethnic group fighting against injustice, poverty and problems in the hood. Add that to their fight against the Vietnam WAR and the picture becomes complete.

In addition to the high number of albums, WAR is known for its live shows. Non-stop touring and doing 150+ concerts per year, they made their music and their message available to all.

It wasn’t a comfy ride in the band itself either. Papa Dee Allen died on stage, during a performance. Peter Rosen died from a drug overdose. Scott, Dickerson, Oskar and Brown left to start a new group, Lowrider Band. The 58 year-old original member of the band, Lonnie Jordan is keeping the legacy of WAR going. Refilling the band with the newer members from all over the world, he is the acting leader/vocalist/keyboard player for the band now.

Coming to NYC on their current tour, WAR brought their classic hits to the excited crowd of fans. Their entire repertoire is sang along and cheered, as the hits of the 70s, 80s, and 90s remain the hits of today.

Lonnie was in high spirits that night. With his family in attendance to support him and the familiar walls of BB King’s he hasn’t visited in 3 years, the stage was barely big enough for him. Smiling and down to earth, but as the show unfolds, totally wrapped in the music and utterly excited as a kid, he gave his fans what they came to see. It was history and it was current. It was a man, who’s played for 40 years jumping all over the stage and at times just drifting away to his own piano solos. The origins of spoken word were also displayed by him. Spoken it was. Talking to people over music, it resembled Jim Morrison more than it did BET’s Basement.

Sharing his experiences, thoughts, ideals and dreams, Lonnie answers questions for WNT.

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