Why Nick Ashford will be remembered
August 23, 2011
In 1984, hip-hop was in full swing. By now, Run-DMC were in full force, LL’s “I Need A Beat”, “8 Million Stories” by Kurtis Blow, and Whodini’s Escape album is a short list of many who were pushing hip-hop, pioneering paths, and changing everything from the way you dressed to the music you listened to. As a teenager, the signal that grown folks were taking over the music at a jam would be when they would slow it down and play R&B, blues, jazz and soul. One of those songs embedded in my memory from my childhood was “Solid (As A Rock)” by Ashford and Simpson. I used to hear this song often by my mother when she had house parties, and the radio would always spin this record. It’s like some songs became members of the black community or our families because it was played at graduations, funerals, weddings, and lean times. “Solid” was that song. Released on Capitol Records in 1984, “Solid” peaked at #12 on the Billboard charts. The beautiful thing about this song is the lyrics, and the fact that they penned their own lyrics. And for love’s sake each mistake All you forgave And soon both of us learned to trust Not runaway it was no time to play We build it up we build up and build it up And now it’s solid, solid as a rock That’s what this love is that’s what we got… Many of the artists you love and spend over \$100 to see can’t always say that they actually wrote the song they are performing. “Solid” was and is inspirational. It talked and talks about black love in a way that the everyday person could relate to, meaning making mistakes, learning, trust, and building up something, together, until it’s solid as a rock. I think we could use to stop and listen back to the classics, and apply the lessons heard to today’s ever moving world. Can you name 5 songs out in the marketplace like a song like “Solid?” I think Kindred The Family Soul are rightful heirs to this lane. Also, since I’m a lyricist and have deep respect for master African American songwriters, if you listen deeper, the song could have multiple meanings, considering all the conversation about rebuilding dreams and making a better society and world. Maybe our political leaders can take advice from a classic soul record. RIP Nick Ashford. Also, RIP to Jerry Leiber who wrote “Hound Dog”, made famous by Elvis, but was originally written for Big Mama Thornton. Know your history.
Jahi, a hip-hop artist and educator, writes a bi-weekly column on the music industry, politics, technology and education for Hip-Hop.com. He is the CEO of Microphone Mechanics, and an avid reader, chess player, and birdwatcher.