Vintage Diversity is a journalistic mixtape project which exposes the music and stories behind unheralded artists who were way cool, way before their time. Listen to exclusive mixes of these incredible artists by Mixologi resident DJ Mackswell, as our staff writers take you on a biographic journey back in time.
You’ve heard the song before. In Gone in 60 Seconds as Nicolas Cage and his gang get ready to steal 60 cars in one evening. Maybe you’ve heard it any of the other 14 moves its been featured in… Cheech and Chong’s Up In Smoke, Friday, or Dazed and Confused. Perhaps you heard it on Grand Theft Auto, or Rock Band, The Simpsons, or maybe you heard the sample from Janet, Korn, or TLC.
“Low Rider” by WAR is one of the most iconic songs to come out of the 1970s and “the lyric takes the cool image of the lowrider — the Chicano culture practice of hydraulically hot-rodding classic cars — and using innuendo, extends the image to a lifestyle.”
This is how WAR wrote their music, but who is WAR, anyway?
The year was 1969, and these kids had the audacity to carry the name WAR at a time when peace was the slogan in an anti-Vietnam America. “Our mission was to spread a message of brotherhood and harmony,” states one of WARs founding members, singer/keyboardist Lonnie Jordan. “Our instruments and voices became our weapons of choice and the songs our ammunition. We spoke out against racism, hunger, gangs, crimes, and turf wars, as we embraced all people with hope and the spirit of brotherhood.
Blending elements of rock, funk, jazz, R&B, and Reggae, WAR’s music spoke to people, while resonating with their palates. With it’s multi-ethnic lineup, they embraced and personified diversity in every aspect, breaking racial and cultural barriers in every aspect.
WAR’s global popularity is a tribute to the timelessness of its music and message. “The world is still a ghetto”, says Lonnie Jordan, echoing the title of the early album and song. And although it is still a ghetto, it is one that still enjoys WAR’s laid back, California vibe. It’s the kind of music you listen to on a warm summer night, instantly taking you back to a happy place.
WAR has found a lot of second generation fans because they are seeing the same things their parents saw. They are hearing the same messages. “We’re like Levi’s,” says Jordan, “and there’s nothing nostalgic about Levis. In fact, they’re not really good and funky until they’ve been worn awhile.”
WAR is love. That’s the legacy of the message…and I love WAR.