Understanding Cultural Appropriation Part 2: Black Music

Out of every part of Black American culture, our music has definitely proved to be the most profitable. From Rock n’ Roll to Hip Hop, Black American music has made a huge mark on American music and music worldwide. That should be a compliment, right? It would be if anti-blackness wasn’t prevalent globally. It would be if we got the credit we deserved. It would be if our music wasn’t always being whitewashed over time. It would be a compliment if people didn’t diminish our culture to just being Hip Hop music. At what point do we start seeing it less as flattering and more of what is is? Which is the hijacking of Black culture.

Globally, different cultures have their own forms of hip hop music. You have Korean hip hop, Brazilian hip hop, U.K. hip hop, Nigerian rap, Latin trap, etc. Just like America, a lot of these countries have anti-black or anti-black American views. As we all know, anti-blackness is global. How you can have an issue with black people or Black Americans while simultaneously imitating them? Some people would rather die before they even give us credit for the music we created. They’d rather say, ” Music has no color,” or, “You can’t own music!” No one said Black Americans owned music. But, you always give credit to the people who inspired you. You know the way you’d do in a speech or an essay? Hip hop has influenced music everywhere, and you have people like Gene Simmons throwing a fit for Black rappers being inducted into the Hall of Fame. Hip hop isn’t even the only music Black Americans have created. There are plenty of others genres like: House and Rock n’ Roll. Both of these genres have a following globally. There’s European house and Latin House. Then there’s Rock n’ roll, which became whiter over time. White artists were inspired by Black Rock n’ Roll artists like Little Richard and Chuck Berry. (I’ll explain a little bit of that in the next paragraph.) These artists hardly ever receive credit. Black people have to ask for more black artists to even be nominated at popular music award shows.

Right now we are witnessing the white washing of r&b and hip hop music, the same way it happened with Rock n’ Roll music . There are people who don’t even realize that the first Rock n’ Roll artists were Black. Our favorite classic rock artists like: Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, and Eric Clapton were influenced by Black Rock n’ Roll and Blues artists. The Beach Boys were sued by Chuck Berry for sampling his music. Led Zeppelin was sued by Willie Dixon. They didn’t even pay or give credit to these artist. they were stealing from them. People think that Little Richard is crazy when he tells you that he never received the credit he deserved for being the pioneer of Rock n’ Roll. He’s not crazy. Artists like: Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley are the pioneers of Rock n’ Roll music. We’d also have to give credit to Blues artists like: Howlin Wolf, Willie Dixon, and Muddy Waters. Without these artists, your favorite rock bands wouldn’t exist. What makes it worse is that Black artists were barely paid for the music they made. Elvis Presley was influenced immensely by black artists and expressed that. He often recorded covers of songs by black artists, as well.

Now onto the whitewashing of Hip Hop. Artists like 6ix9ine, Lil Pump, and Bhad Babie who are currently considered some of the most popular rappers right now. White and Latinx rappers have been around since the 80s. The only problem now is that they are not talented and caricatures of black people. We have rappers like: Bhad Babie and Iggy Azalea using, “blaccents.” Iggy Azalea is an Australian woman with an Australian accent, who sounds like a Black woman from the South when she raps. Iggy also has the stereotypical body of a black woman: a big butt and big lips. She just so happens to have a history of racist tweets, as well. Then you have Bhad Babie, the white teenager who got famous for disrespecting her mom on Dr. Phil. She slips in and out of her, “blaccent,” from now and then. Now she’s a rapper who beefs with other caricatures like Vicky and Lil Tay. 6ix9ine and Lil Pump are Latinx rappers, who I’m assuming are non-black Latinx, that comfortably use the n word in their music. 6ix9ine and Lil Pump also both happen to have rainbow colored dreadlocks. Miley Cyrus attempted to be a Hip Hop artist at one point too. We all remember her twerking on Robin Thicke at the VMAs and recording songs with popular rappers. A reminder that mainstream media was trying to credit her with popularizing twerking, even though black people had been twerking for years. Miley wasn’t even doing it right. A few years later, she denounced Hip Hop. She used and discarded black culture like trash. In 2018, White America openly embraces Hip Hop culture. Everyday there are more and more awful white rappers popping up like acne. At one point, white people wanted rap music banned. It was a “bad influence”. It was too “violent”. Ironically, these are the same people who worship the ground Eminem walks on. Eminem is also not the, “King of Rap”, by the way. You will not name a white rapper as the King of a genre created by black people.

The last genre I’m going to cover is R&B music. If I named every genre that was hijacked from black people, I’d be typing this post for days. There are always non-Black R&b artists who are clearly imitating the way Black R&B artists sound. Then everyone praises them and puts them above the Black artists they’re imitating. The first few artists that come to my mind are: Bruno Mars, Adele, Amy Winehouse, and Robin Thicke. Now, I do like these artists and their music. But, the truth is the truth. They are or were just doing the same thing R&B artists have been doing for decades, and being praised for it because they aren’t Black. It seems that America enjoys Black art and style more when there isn’t a Black face attached to it.

It is upsetting seeing Black American music slowly being watered down and made acceptable for White America. It’s upsetting to see cultures that are notoriously anti-Black making our music their own. It’s upsetting when our music is used by everyone, but no one wants to give their credit where credit is due. I have no issue with people enjoying our music. I don’t have a problem with non-Black R&B artists and rappers. The problem is the lack of respect that people have for Black Americans and our culture. I can’t control what people do with our music. But, best believe I will call it out.

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