RIP Dells’ Marvin Junior – The multi-generational “voice” of Black culture

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A few years ago, Chuck D. told me that when he first started, he intentionally set out to sound as much like Marvin Junior as possible. I didn’t quite believe him, so I decided to spend an afternoon listening to Public Enemy songs & Dells songs, back to back to back. The vocal similarities are astounding. Chuck really does sound like Marvin. Not exactly, but “almost,” in the same kind of way that Teddy P. & David Ruffin did.

So one way we can think about Marvin Junior is that his influence runs from “doo wop to hip hop.”

But more important would be to think about and consider, exactly why Marvin would have such a multi-generational influence?

Well I think that is also painfully obvious. Marvin’s voice is that of a proud and virile Black man. It is of someone who recognizes the struggle that he faces and faces it head on. It is a voice of teachers and preachers. It is a voice that all men who want to influence others would want to emulate. It is in fact the voice of leadership. Listen carefully to speeches of people like MLK, Jessie Jackson, Louis Farrakhan and others. Listen to the voices of some of your favorite Black politicians, DJ’s, actors, etc. Don’t many of them sound like they are emulating the voice of Marvin Junior?

All of this may just be too much to think about or to consider, after all wasn’t this man just a singer? Or even just a great singer?

Well perhaps you are correct?

Perhaps it is all too complex to think about?

Maybe I should just let it go?

After all, the whole topic of Rhythm & Blues itself is a pretty complex topic, and perhaps it’s complexity is best left alone and we should simply focus on the songs?

Marvin Junior wasn’t really what you would consider “computer literate.”

However he was quite interested in Soul-Patrol. He told me that he would have someone print out many of the things I had written, and whenever I would see him, we would have conversations about some of the topics I had written about.

Once backstage Marvin said to me; “Bob one of the reasons that I like you so much is because you understand that Rhythm & Blues is a complex thing.

Of course I knew just where he was going, but I could tell that he wanted to let it all out, so I said to him…How so Marvin?

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