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In addition to my career as a Professor of Ethnic Studies and my passion for writing detective fiction, I am also a guitar player. Above is a picture of me and a custom made Les Paul guitar (named "Angela" for my wife) by a close friend, colleague, former bandmate, and local luthier. I grew up in a musical household. My father was a classically trained clarinetist who played jazz records for me the minute I was brought home from San Francisco Children's Hospital and who taught me how to listen and what to listen for in jazz. I started playing classical guitar at 8 and then switched to jazz, blues, and rock by the age of 13. I've played a lot over the past two decades for a now defunct local blues band called Root Down and for the St. John Will-I-Am Coltrane band, Ohnedaruth, including a memorable performance in Paris at Cite de la Musique. I am currently building a soul/funk project called The Dred Scot Decision. I am also married to a conservatory trained opera singer!

Given my musical background, I wrote The People’s Detective with an eye towards how the story and the landscape of Oakland, California might translate to the big screen. Foremost in this process were my considerations of a soundtrack for the novel. Every chapter was written with one or two songs that represented the main themes, characters, and action. Often I began with a song that I knew captured the mood and tone of what I wanted to write. I listened repeatedly, as jazz giant John Coltrane recommended, and, after my meditation, the words began to unfold.

You can listen to The People’s Detective: A Sonny Trueheart Mystery Playlist on Apple music

Play each of the selections either before, during, or immediately after reading the chapter. I trust that you will have a greater sense of my inspiration –my strange and wicked sense of humor, and my depth of my love for this story and these characters– as the story unfolds, and that the playlist will provide a

complete experience through the union of words and sound.

James Baldwin once said that he wanted to write the way that Aretha Franklin sang. Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man begins with his unnamed character smoking reefer and listening to the great Louis Armstrong sing "Why Am I So Black and Blue?" The great playwright August Wilson, wrote dialogue that came straight from his keen listening of the blues tradition. As you go through this extensive playlist, you will notice an eclectic mix of voices including Jimi Hendrix, Lauryn Hill, Ritchie Havens, The Isley Brothers, Ben Harper, Grace Jones, Bob Marley, India Arie, Funkadelic, Jorja Smith, and Marvin Gaye. I want you to feel Sonny riding down the pothole laden streets of Oakland on his Harley-Davidson Fatboy motorcycle when you read and listen to Anthony Hamilton's "Comin' From Where I'm From" and I want you to experience the intensity and desperation of Aurora Jenkins' escape attempt when you read and listen to Ritchie Havens' "Follow the Drinking Gourd." The music for each chapter really helped to link me to the emotions that I wanted to convey for the action and dialogue that I wrote for The People's Detective. And, if you want to feel more of the spirit that I was feeling when I created these characters and scenes, we have the aid of digital music, something that Baldwin, Ellison, Wilson and so many others would likely have used.


Nicholas Louis Baham III

1 The End of Misogynoir

Ben Harper - “The Will to Live”

2. The People’s Detective

Anthony Hamilton - “Comin’ From I’m From”

3. Cargo

The Specials – “Gangsters”

4. Traffick

Steel Pulse - “Human Trafficking”

5. Ghost in the Machine

The Police – “Spirits in the Material World”

6. The Segregated Illuminati

Makaveli / Tupac Shakur – “White Man’z World”

7. The Onanist

Chuck Berry - “My Ding-a-Ling

8. Backstabbers

The O’Jays – “Backstabbers”

9. Aaminha

India Arie – “Video”

10. Captivity

Bob Marley - “Soul Captives”

11. Trouble Man

Marvin Gaye - “Trouble Man”

12. Old Man Kaz

Robert Cray - “I’m A Good Man”

13. The Young Detective

Steely Dan – “With a Gun”

14. The Arrangement

Too $hort – “Blow the Whistle”

15. Brother Malik

Prince – “Gigolos Get Lonely Too”

16. Afro Samurai

Joe James - “Afro Samurai”

17. Trans Lives Matter

Jorja Smith - “Bussdown”

18. Oaksterdam

Funkadelic - “Maggot Brain”

19. Blues and Bruise

Amy Winehouse - “You Know That I’m No Good”

20. Raising the Dead

Bhi Bhiman - “Guttersnipe”

22. Sexual Healing

Marvin Gaye “Sexual Healing”

23. Journalist, Councilman, and Traitor

The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy -“Music and Politics”

24. The Mistress and the Benefactress

The Ohio Players – “Fire”

25. Escape

Ritchie Havens - “Follow the Drinkin’ Gourd”

26. Straighten Up and Fly Right

Nat King Cole - “Straighten Up and Fly Right”

27. The Bardo

Isley Brothers – “Footsteps in the Dark”

28. The Kingston 11

Bob Marley & The Wailers – Burnin’ and Lootin’

29. Hunger Strike

The Temptations – “Message from a Black Man”

30. Reconnaissance

O’Jays – “For the Love of Money”

31. Smoke and Mirrors

Jimi Hendrix – “Fire”

32. Acrophobia

A Tribe Called Quest – “Check the Rhime”

33. Game of Death

Carl Douglass - “Everybody Was Kung Fu Fighting”

34. Recruited

Sade – “Feel No Pain”

35. Black is the Color

Nina Simone – “Black is the Color”

36. Heist

Celly Cel – “It’s Goin’ Down Tonight”

37. Slave to the Rhythm

Grace Jones – “Slave to the Rhythm;” and

Iggy and the Stooges - “Search and Destroy

38. Gimme the Goods

Boz Scaggs – “Gimme the Goods”

39. Fight

Erykah Badu - “Soldier”

40. Wretched of the Earth

Sade – “Soldier of Love”

41. Exposure

The Black Tones – “The End of Everything”

42. Do Not Go Gentle Into that Good Night

Jimi Hendrix - "1983 (A Merman I Should Turn To Be)"

43. Requiem for a Mistress

Velvet Underground – “Venus in Furs”

44. Do It Again

Steely Dan – “Do It Again”

45. I’m Your Momma, I’m Your Daddy

Curtis Mayfield – “Pusherman”

46. The Trickster

Bobby Womack – “Across 110th St.”

Richie Rich - “Let’s Ride”

47. Did You Think I’d Forgotten

The Isley Brothers – “Fight the Power”

48. Epilogue: The People’s Detective (Slight Return)

Jimi Hendrix “Voodoo Chile” (Slight Return)



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