Home Read Classic Album Review: Cornel West | Sketches of My Culture

Classic Album Review: Cornel West | Sketches of My Culture

The lecturer’s album is equal parts history lecture, sermon & spoken-word poetry.


This came out in 2002 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):


In the ’60s, rapping had nothing to do with two turntables and a microphone. It was a synonym for conversation or education — an impassioned discussion, an illuminating lecture, an intelligent address.

That’s the sort of raps that writer and lecturer Dr. Cornel West delivers on his album Sketches of My Culture. With a delivery that falls somewhere between a history lecture, a sermon and spoken-word poetry, West traces the struggles, tragedies and triumphs of the Afro-American experience in eloquent, flowing verbal riffs. A tasteful, jazzy trio supplies the backbeat to his spoken-word solos, fittingly working their way across the map of African-American music from gospel and jazz to hip-hop and funk. More intelligent and musical than any hip-hop CD on the racks, Sketches of My Culture is truly an original rap album — however you define it.