Fire in Little Africa – a groundbreaking album of original material, written and recorded by a collective of Oklahoma hip hop artists to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre – will be released on May 28 by Motown Records/Black Forum in partnership with Tulsa’s Bob Dylan Center® and Woody Guthrie Center®.
The 21-track collection gets to the truth of what happened on May 31 and June 1, 1921 when a white mob descended on the streets of Greenwood — then a prosperous Tulsa neighborhood known as Black Wall Street — and burned down the business district, destroying roughly 1,500 homes, killing hundreds and leaving thousands of Black Tulsans homeless. For years, this historic, albeit dire, chapter was left out of classrooms and textbooks as the city attempted to erase this part of its past. The artists heard on Fire in Little Africa get to the truth through urgent songs, recalling stories told and stories lived in hope to usher in a new era for Tulsa as they help the community process this generational trauma through music.
“Fire in Little Africa is a powerful and timely project that provides a platform and outlet for the incredibly talented and thriving music community of Tulsa, Oklahoma,” said Motown Records Chairman & CEO, Ethiopia Habtemariam. “Carrying the legacy of the Black Wall Street community, Fire in Little Africa is a body of work filled with purpose and prolific storytelling. I am honored and feel privileged to have Motown Records/Black Forum partner with Dr. View, the Bob Dylan Center and Guthrie Center to release this impactful hip-hop album.”
- City of Dreams
- Party Plane (feat. Charlie Wilson)
- Been Through It All
- Our World
- Top Down
- Creme of the Crop
- 918 Thug Town Skit
- Watchu On
- P.O.D. Pt. II
- Raw Cocaine
- The Rain
- North Tulsa Got Something to Say
- Brunch at the Brady
- Young & Free
“I am honored to be a part of the Fire In Little Africa album featuring the musical contributions of young talented local artists from my hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma. This tragedy has been suppressed for generations.” Charlie Wilson continues “Growing up in Tulsa we named our band, The GAP Band, after Greenwood, Archer and Pine Streets, the wealthiest and most successful African American community in the United States in the early 20th century. I am proud to see a new generation of talented Tulsans continue to tell the story of our ancestors. They are opening the door for many generations to come by shedding light not only on the race massacre but the excellence of the Black Wall Street and Greenwood community.”
Stevie “Dr. View” Johnson, PhD, Manager, Education & Diversity Outreach at the Woody Guthrie Center | Bob Dylan Center and the album’s executive producer, added, “Fire in Little Africa has evolved into a communal hip hop movement and we’re excited that we get to share the flavor, history and legacy of Black Wall Street with the world, in collaboration with the amazing leadership of the Motown/Black Forum family. We’re grateful for Ethiopia’s foresight in providing us an opportunity to share our important stories with the world. There are Black Wall Streets across the diaspora and we unequivocally know that Fire in Little Africa will inspire many people. In the words of Steph Simon, ‘everything is us.’”
In this feature, Rolling Stone noted, “Fire in Little Africa is poised to teach the world about that long-suppressed history, from locals who grew up in a community that still lives with the aftermath of the massacre. Just as important, the artists involved in the project also hope it serves as a launching-pad moment for Tulsa’s hip-hop scene, which has long flown under the national radar.”
The album was recorded in Greenwood over a five-day period in March 2020. Studios were set up at the Greenwood Cultural Center and other locations, including the former home of 1921 massacre mastermind/KKK leader Tate Brady. The house is now owned by former NFL first-round draft pick and Tulsa native Felix Jones. The Tulsa World was on hand to speak with the artists involved in the historic sessions. Read the article HERE and check out the accompanying video HERE.
“Fireside with Dr. View” is a weekly podcast featuring “Dr. View” in conversation with thought leaders in activism, academia and culture, centered on the movement behind the Fire in Little Africa music. Listen to “Fireside with Dr. View” HERE. Hosts Ali Shaw and Doc Free sit down with Fire in Little Africa artists, Tulsa community leaders and national voices for conversations on music and culture in the “Fire in Little Africa” podcast, which can be found HERE.
Located in the Tulsa Arts District, the Woody Guthrie Center opened in 2013. The Bob Dylan Center is expected to open on the same block within the next year. Both are projects of the George Kaiser Family Foundation, the primary funder for Fire in Little Africa. The album is chronicled in a documentary film, which will be released later this year.
Fire in Little Africa marks the first new material released by Black Forum since the label’s relaunch earlier this year. Black Forum originally debuted in 1970 with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Why I Oppose The War In Vietnam, which won a GRAMMY® Award for Best Spoken Word Album. The label reissued Dr. King’s influential speech earlier this year.