The title of the song, “Am I A Good Man,” asks a serious question. A question that Colm Ryan, the protagonist of Dart Etiquette asks himself in the novel, and one that we have all asked ourselves and if you haven’t, well maybe, you should.
The song was released in July 1967, by the soul group Them Two, comprised of Larry Mobley and Larry Greene, with Helene Smith performing backing vocals, and Arnold Albury on the organ. It was released by Deep City Records, after being discovered by music producer and co-owner of Deep City, Willie Clarke. Clarke and his business/writing partner Clarence Reid, composed the song and wrote the lyrics.
The song is haunting, and heartfelt, and I would never have known it existed if it wasn’t for one of my all time favorite rappers, Ghostface Killah. The first track off of Ghost’s 2010 studio album, Apollo Kids, an album he made to fulfill contractual obligations, sampled the classic Them Two song. “Purified Thoughts” was produced by Canadian Frank Dukes, and features Killah Priest and The Gza, easily the strongest song on the album, and immediately piqued my interest after hearing the beat.
Sure, the Them Two song is about a tumultuous relationship and we’ve all had our fair share, but take that question out of context and ask it on a more existential level, am I a good man?
What answer did you get?
The answer is not always so clear to me, but I’m trying.