This So-Called Post-Post-Racial Life

September 18, 2009

OSF: Music for Smooth Criminals

Filed under: Old School Friday — Tags: , — pprscribe @ 7:43 am

There were two ways to interpret this week’s Old School Friday theme Criminal Records. One: Music by artists who actually have criminal records and served time in prison. Two: Music about crime and prison—either literally or metaphorically: criminal records of the (old school) vinyl kind. (Also, I guess a third interpretation could be “songs performed by artists in prison concerts.” There are a surprising number of them, but unfortunately I do not happen to own any.)

Well I tried to cover both bases with my picks this week. I first thought of MJ’s “Smooth Criminal,” but then decided to just jack his title for mine. So—no MJ—sorry! But I do have Sade singing “Is It a Crime?” Of course, if you have to ask….

And I know I just recently featured Johnny Cash and “Folsom Prison Blues” when the theme was Songs You Might Be Surprised I Know. But I just love the song and it is perfect for the theme. So, here it is again for this week. He is also one of those artists, BTW, who has performed concerts to prison audiences.

The Rap/hip hop world is a gimmee in terms of songs about doing crime and doing time. But I will just pick one of the songs from one of the greats. Tupac here, then, with “When I Get Free.” And in this case I cover both bases as Shakur, in addition to rhyming about the prison life, himself served time in prison.

Finally, a crime wave of a more metaphorical and political bent, with Spearhead and “Crime to be Broke in America.”

Have a safe—and 100% crime-free—Old School Friday and weekend!


As always, a big thank you to OSF hostesses, Marvalus at Conversations with Marva and MrsGrapevine.

Please check out the rules for joining and list of other OSF participants here.



  1. Hi PPR_Scribe, only you would/could reach down and pull out Sadie’s “Is It A Crime”. That whole CD had me. I mean, when it first came out I played it nonstop – for daaays!

    I’m in my introspective mode this morning. After reading this theme, I thought of Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On”. The lyrics in that song were written nearly 40 years ago and they still apply today.

    “When I Get Free”…. gosh, you couldn’t have pick a better ending. It IS a crime, we are going backwards. Jails, institutions and DEATH – free-dom?

    Comment by careycarey — September 18, 2009 @ 8:39 am

  2. Really enjoyed your picks, but I gotta say Johnny Cash was my favorite. Johnny Cash is a true classic, and Folsom Prison Blues was simply great. And, as you say, perfectly appropriate for this week’s theme.

    Happy OSF!

    Comment by teamowens313 — September 18, 2009 @ 7:23 pm

  3. Great Choices!

    I had forgotten about Johnny Cash and Spearhead. Those are two good choices for the theme.

    I hope your weekend is filled with peace, rest and relaxation.

    Happy OSF to you.

    Comment by msladydeborah — September 19, 2009 @ 9:46 pm

  4. Thanks to all of you for dropping by my OSF. Posting my picks and touring around to see what other OSFers have picked is always a perfect end to my week!

    Comment by pprscribe — September 20, 2009 @ 12:30 pm

  5. My second Sade’ sighting and I love it!
    Great picks as always!

    Comment by regina — September 20, 2009 @ 5:16 pm

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