In the late 1960s, Eldridge Cleaver became a leading voice in the Black Panther movement, advocating for black American political, intellectual, and social power during the Civil Rights movement of the time. Having penned a series of best-selling essays in 1968 entitled Soul of Ice, Cleaver gave readers a portal into his complicated, fascinating life's journey. He traversed the country's legal and political systems as a convict, critic, and activist. Decades later, Cleaver's legacy lives on through his powerful quotes, essays, and teachings. In some cases, we even feel his legacy through music.
Enter DFA's Juan Maclean (of live group The Juan Maclean) and Marcus Lambkin (of Shit Robot), who are marking Election Day by sharing a politically-tinged techno track that samples Cleaver giving a speech of one of his essays in 1968 in Syracuse, New York. Simply titled "Soul of Ice," Maclean and Lambkin's track, which will appear on a collaborative EP out on Let's Play House in early 2017, is pretty simple overall—the pair layer a distorted 808 and funky sh101 bassline over Cleaver's speech about the troubled climate between Republicans and Democrats. Check out what Juan Maclean had to say about the project below, as well as the track below that. And if you haven't already, get out there and vote!
"We were in Marcus' studio in his castle in Germany, messing around with the 808 and the sh101, when we came up with this wicked groove," he explained. "At one point, Juan cued up the recording of the Eldridge Cleaver speech and just let it play, and it seemed to magically line up [with the music], Luckily, we were recording the entire time. Though we thought we'd just take a few lines or words, as we listened to it we became captivated by what he was saying and it's relevance to the political climate in the United States in 2016, so we let it play out. It seemed a shame to edit it down so we kept it at the 8.5 minutes, a DJ bathroom break record!"