Philly soul legends The O’Jays get political on their farewell album and its single “Above The Law”

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The O’Jays: Walter Williams, Eric Grant, and Eddie Levert | photo by Shahar Azran | via Pitchfork

Though they’re originally from Canton, Ohio, The O’Jays will be forever associated with Philadelphia, due to their work with producers Gamble & Huff and their mega-hit “Love Train” being a defining song of The Sound of Philadelphia.

It’s been 45 years since that song emerged, though, and it seems that the band’s hope and optimism has hardened a bit. “People all over the world, join hands” might still be a noble ideal, but as The O’Jays admit in their new single, “evil exists as well as good.” To say nothing of forces like power, corruption, intolerance, hate.

The new song is called “Above The Law,” and it’s a deep funk groover with a dose of socially conscious real talk, in the vein of The Temptations’ “Ball of Confusion.”

The song addresses economic inequality on lyrics like “Go ahead and ring that bell, open the market. / Do the ones that work the most get to put any money in their pocket?” It gets cynical with the barbed lyric “The game is fixed / pure poli-tricks.” And it also addresses hypocrisy of those who feign concern about the disenfranchised when not putting their proverbial money where their mouth is: “As long as it’s working in your favor, you love the law.”

The lyric video for the song features photos and footage of various members of Congress, as well as the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearings, scenes from Black Lives Matter protests, and NFL protests. Watch it below; “Above the Law” will be featured on The O’Jays final album, The Last Word, due out February 22nd via S-Curve Records.

(h/t Pitchfork)

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