Legendary soul group The O’Jays take aim at Trump in new single.
The O’Jays have debuted their new single ‘Above the Law’, their first new music in over a decade. The single is the first from their new album, titled The Last Word, which is due to be released in February 2019 on S-Curve Records.
The song, written by soul icon Betty Wright and Angelo Morris, takes aim at President Donald J. Trump and the Republican Party for the way they’ve changed the “the lay and the law of the land” in just two years.
To accompany the release of the new single, a lyric video featuring clips of the Black Lives Matter movement, Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell, Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and, of course, tweets from Trump himself. It’s a bold, unfiltered attack on the Republican Party in the era of Trump, and it’s release just weeks ahead of the US midterm elections shows that The O’Jays are taking no prisoners with their latest release.
This isn’t the first time The O’Jays have taken a shot at Trump, in 2016 during the election campaign the group requested Trump stop using their song ‘Love Train’ at his rallies. But now, The O’Jays feel they have to speak out further. In an interview with The Associated Press, Walter Williams said that in Trump’s America “You almost have to say something. You almost have to get involved. You know, it’s bad. I’ve never seen it this bad.”
Equally worried is Eddie Levert, who along with Williams has been co-lead singer of the group for six decades, who said “Now, it seems like we’ve done a 360-degree turn and gone back to those same times when they can hang and shoot and kill people just because of their colour… Walter and myself, we’re living this twice. It’s like repeating yourself. It’s crazy.”
The songs lyrics are direct and powerful, touching on progress made (“Abe helped out a bit, Martin did what he could / And it might’ve worked out but evil exists”), poverty and inequality (“Re-invent slavery / Erase the war on poverty / Separate primarily by class”) and race (“Black boy on drugs imprisonment, and a heavy fine / White boy on drugs rehab and treatment to restore his mind”). Quite simply, it’s an incredible song. It’s helped by the still-delightful vocals of Williams and Levert, who, although in their seventies, still sound great.
For those who argue (mostly on the right) that entertainers should entertain, The O’Jays have always been political and have sung about social issues on many of their best loved songs. Take ‘Backstabbers‘, ‘For The Love of Money‘, ‘Rich Get Richer‘ and ‘Ship Ahoy‘ (the latter is about the slave trade), they’re all political. That said, this could be the group’s most politically charged release yet, and rightly so. These are depressing times that should make everyone feel angry.
As for their next album, it could very well be their last. In an interview with CBS earlier this year, The O’Jays announced that retirement could be on the horizon, and the 2020 date has been rumoured as their year of performing. For Levert, the decision to retire is a conscious one: “I’ll be 80 in four more years. What girl is going to fall out and scream on the floor for an 80-year-old man? It’s time.”
This new, potential final release, could be the perfect finale for one of the greatest vocal groups in music history.
You can read our review of The O’Jays performance at the Theatre Royal, London earlier this year here.