Dayton, OH-born and-based singer/songwriter and drummer Steve Arrington got his start as a member of the legendary Dayton-based funk and soul act Slave in the 70s, eventually becoming known for contributing lead vocals on smash hits like “Watching You,” and “Just a Touch of Love.” Continuing upon the success he attained with Slave, Arrington went solo recording a handful of albums before leaving the secular music world in 1991 to focus on spiritual and ministerial work.
Since 1991, an impressive and eclectic array of artists including Jay-Z, A Tribe Called Quest, Pharrell, 2Pac, Snoop Dogg, LL Cool J, Mariah Carey, N.W.A. and a lengthy list of others sampling his work in Slave and as a solo artist. Interestingly, after nearly two decades away from professional secular music, Arrington returned in 2009 with the release of that year’s Pure Thang, which he followed up with 2013’s collaborative album with Dam-Funk, Higher, released through Stones Throw Records. And in the decade or so since the release of Pure Thang, the Dayton-born and-based legend has collaborated with old-schoolers and youngbloods alike, working with Snoop, , Kool Moe Dee, George Clinton, and Thundercat.
Released earlier this year, Down To The Lowest Terms: The Soul Lessons is Arrington’s first solo album in 11 years, and the album’s material sees the funk and soul legend finding peace with himself and God while casting an easygoing yet still razor-sharp critical eye on the world around him. The album also captures an old schooler, who’s still restlessly creative and as vital as ever. As a 40-something that kind of thing is inspirational to me.
Produced by DJ Harrison, “Make a Difference,” Down To The Lowest Terms: The Soul Sessions‘ third and latest single continues a run of strutting and sinuous pimp struts featuring a a shimmering arrangement of twinkling and reverb-drenched Rhodes, a sinuous bass line, sunny horn lines and a stuttering boom-bap like beat. But unlike its immediate predecessor, the Quiet Storm-like “Soulful I Need That In My Life,” “Make a Difference” is centered around a proud and defiantly hopeful message: we haven’t achieved Martin’s dream of the promise land yet but we’re making much progress towards it. And while things are difficult, we can’t give up the hope that Black folks will be free — and that America will live up to its ideals. There’s just too much to lose for all of us.
“Make a Difference” address “the current state of things in this country,” Arrington says. “As far as the racial tensions . . . so much of it is being promoted by politicians with agendas. And you have moments like Black Lives Matter, and different races coming together to say: ‘We’re not going back. We’re not stepping back into the forties and fifties.’ This song speaks to that. The great John Lewis — the message that he left for all of us, to understand and move forward, not making a difference for a few months, but a lifetime of living.”
Shot in a gorgeous and cinematic black and white, the recently released video for “Make a Difference” sees Arrington as a musical community elder, gently instructing the listener and viewer on Black history, putting the struggles and triumphs in a proper historical context, with Black Lives Matter being a continuation of a generations-long struggle for equality. And while we see the photography and footage of the talented and brave Black folk, who have influenced the world and have pushed for justice, the video also finds Arrington blessing the younger generation.