24 Carat Black: Ghetto: Misfortune’s Wealth & 24 Carat Black Theme
From Ghetto: Misfortune’s Wealth (Enterprise, 1973)
Speaking of “Holy Grail” albums…there are some albums that are elevated among digging circles because they are rare and they contain some cool sample that they can play out among other diggers who will “oooh” and “aaah” and be like, “oh snap, he’s got the [fill in your favorite hip-hop song] sample!” I mean, that’s great if you like preaching to the choir but as any more seasoned digger can tell you, the charm fades fast. If you don’t believe that, I got a Vic Juris LP to sell ya.
Now…the 24 Carat Black album has been sampled, extensively, but it is so much more than that. Their sole album, Ghetto: Misfortune’s Wealth is an extraordinary soul album – so diverse in sound that you’d swear it was two or three LPs combined into one. I could have selected practically the entire album – there’s so many outstanding compositions on here, from the horn-filled flair of “Mother’s Day,” to the sparse, funky kick of “Foodstamps,” to these two beauties: the title cut and the “24 Carat Theme” (doesn’t the latter sound like something you’d expect from Can? Seriously). And more than just their musical majesty, this album actually incorporates themes and ideas; it’s a concept album, with each song introducing additional commentary on the state of Black life in the ghetto. Truly, an awesome album whose greatness goes far beyond just its value to funk fiends.