The late ’60s and early ’70s are often remembered within the context of rock n’ roll–complete with visions of free love, liberal drug use, protesting, and partying. While far from Janis Joplin or Joe Cocker, Betty Davis is the epitome of the rock lifestyle–an uncompromising artist who never once stepped into the box.
Betty Davis is a true badass. She turned down Eric Clapton from producing one of her albums; she introduced aggressive sensuality into her music far before Tina Turner; she penned the songs that lead to The Commodores signing to Motown (Davis later turned the label down for a record deal due to ownership issues); she married, influenced, and divorced Miles Davis; she was part of a crew that Carlos Santana referred to as the “cosmic ladies”; and she may have been the first artist to use the term “hater” in a song. On top of this summarized history, she produced her own records and wrote everything all by her damn self. Holy shit.
Davis’ ferocious punk-funk-R&B has played an immense role in contemporary hip-hop as well. MCs from Talib Kweli to Ice Cube to Ludacris have rapped over her beats and she’s been sampled excessively. Fortunately, she hasn’t died from a drug overdose or suicide. Unfortunately, she’s broke as hell and living in a Pittsburgh ghetto–, having never received proper royalties for her records.
Light in the Attic Records is paying true homage to the queen of anarchic-funk by re-releasing her 1973 self-titled debut and her sophomore effort They Say I’m Different (yes, she will get the royalties now!), setting up what was to become one of the most influential and unique forms of hard-funk. From Karen O to Kelis, it would be pretty fucked up not to attribute their aesthetics to Davis (usually perched on her album covers dressed as an intergalactic Egyptian or afro-topped party-vixen).
The two offerings are both remastered and come bundled with an extensive booklet documenting Davis’ well-deserved place in history. I believe Ice Cube stated it best when he said: “Betty was a G, for real.” For real.
Betty Davis and They Say I’m Different are out now on Light in the Attic.
1. If I’m in Luck, I Might Get Picked Up
2. Walkin’ Up the Road
3. Anti love Song
4. Your Man, My Man
5. Ooh Yea
6. Steppin’ In Her I. Miller Shoes
7. Game is My Middle Name
8. In the Meantime
9. Come Take Me
10. You Won’t See Me In the Morning
11. I Will Take That Ride
They Say I’m Different
1. Shoo-B-Doop and Cop Him
2. He Was A Big Freak
3. Your Mama Wants Ya Back
4. Don’t Call Her No tramp
5. Git In There
6. They Say I’m Different
7. ’70s Blues