Lost Classics / Obscure
24-Carat Black's Ghetto: Misfortune's Wealth
Forgotten Album - Book - by Zach Schonfeld
In 1973, the musical collective 24-Carat Black released an unheralded masterpiece on Stax Records-and then disappeared. Ghetto: Misfortune's Wealth, a soul-funk concept album primarily written by the ex-Motown arranger Dale Warren, was too bleak, ambitious, or just outright bizarre to reach mainstream audiences. 24-Carat Black collapsed when Stax went bankrupt, and the group's only completed album sank into cultural obscurity.
With deep reporting elucidating an untold story full of cinematic details, this book traces how Ghetto went from commercial flop to enigmatic underground classic embraced by the hip-hop community. It also chronicles, in infuriating detail, how the music industry of the 1970s systematically exploited soul musicians and then left them struggling to get paid-and where 24-Carat Black fits into this broader injustice. This is a fascinating and multilayered story about a remarkable album nearly lost to history.
It's also a rare glimpse into what it's like to have your music resurrected by rap samples decades after your career fell apart.