4.16.2015

Funny thing about #WhiteOut (#RIP #PercySledge)

(h/t Jules)

It's not exactly new.

From the fave Bar Patron du jour Ranier Maningding, whose posts have been nothing but fire, I present to you one hell of a eulogy:


**White Out**
*What Happens When White Musicians Steal From Black Ones?*

Yesterday afternoon, on a rainy day in Baton Rouge, legendary soul singer Percy Sledge passed away at 73-years old.

Sledge had been singing since the 1960's and topped the charts with his hit song, "When a Man Loves a Woman" which was eventually covered by Michael Bolton.

Though Bolton, a white singer, gave credit to Percy Sledge, it's hard to have a discussion of Sledge's popularity without discussing Michael Bolton. And for a lot of early black musicians, the same is true. You can't talk about Chuck Berry's guitar skills without bringing up Keith Richards, nor can you reminisce in James Brown's dance moves without side-eyeing Elvis Presley. In other words: when white musicians stole the music and style of black artists, they didn't just take their catchy tunes and face-melting guitar riffs, they diminished their significance and relegated them into the humble category of "inspiration."


I have this vivid image in my head of a music producer in the 1960's, listening to Chuck Berry and James Brown and wishing, WISHING he could tap his feet and hum those tunes. WISHING he could sign those miraculous black artists but knowing full well that the general public would go apeshit. Knowing that, although he loved the sound of the music, he didn't love who was making it.If only they were white.

Enter Elvis Presley.

Whenever the subject of Elvis came up, it was always in a, "damn, that white boy can sing and dance like a Black guy!" which, if you actually compare him to legends like James Brown, no, no he cannot. Elvis still dances like a white boy... lol. When you look at Elvis' discography, most of his music is absolute GARBAGE. I'm talkin' pure, unfiltered TRASH, yet screaming white girls LOVED him.

And today, you see the same shit happen. You have these AMAZING Black artists who get very little credit, while white newcomers show up, do half as good, and receive instant gratification. "Justin Timberlake is the modern face of R&B!" "Adele is the queen of big voices!" "Iggy represents the new generation of female rappers!"

REALLY, DUDE?

And although we can argue that there's enough pie for everyone, why then does no one remember Lauryn Hill? Why do we play Robin Thicke's thieving ass on the radio and not Tank? Or D'Angelo? Whenever a Black artist comes up, a brand new white version shows up just around the corner. No, it ain't the white musicians fault for making music and getting paid. I don't blame Iggy for supplanting Nicki Minaj (though I do blame her for that possessed, gibberish rapping she did) but I am upset when the shadow of mediocre white artists drown out the authentic sounds of Black ones. When SNL gives a shit about Robin Thicke's 'Paula' album and not Cody Chestnut's, we have a problem.

While the Biebers, Karmins and Amethyst Kellys of the world get their toes tickled with dollar dollar bills, amazing, purely fantastic Black artists get left to the side. Their dreams get crushed by the reality of an industry unwilling to support new black talent, and all the hours of singing lessons, guitar practice and dance rehearsal flush down the toilet. Their lyrics about pain and the police are never heard. Their renditions of 'Strange Fruit' and 'A Change is Gonna Come' stay quiet on their iPod.

The music industry is dead and it's not because "this new generation doesn't appreciate good music!"

It's because we've sucked out all, ALL of the soul.

6 comments:

  1. I agree. Now Elvis may have wiggled, and he may have jiggled- but he was no James Brown. I watched James Brown perform live at The South Field House, in my hometown when I was 9 years old. To be fair, there were a couple of tunes I liked from Elvis, very early in his career. That was Teddy Bear, (which had a Frankie Lymon-esque beat to it.) Poor Boy and Don’t be Cruel. A closer comparison would be the pitiful facsimile who went by the name of Wayne Cochran. Watching him perform reminds me of the Holocaust, in that you simply want to cover your eyes to the horror.

    I grew up in the 60’s so we ate- slept and breathed Soul Music. For my Mother the genre was defined by a Strong Bass Line, that’s how she picked out her record player console.

    Scratch my Back, Cleo’s Back, and Green Onions have been burned in my brain since I was 9-11 years of age. Personally, I don’t know how anyone can watch The Voice or anything similar when guitar-playing white guys walk away with the accolades. As long as Mediocre remains the standard, we’ll simply be out-voted most of the time. Still, I can’t even count the white singers on one hand that can out-sing a black performer.

    Hell, we practically own Gospel, but its people like Christy Lane and The Oakridge Boys who most accredit with that ole’ time Gospel Sound. If you ask me, it can all be summed up in Envy. For if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then white people have it bad when it comes to That Sweet Soul Music.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Without Racism there can be no Blue-eyed Soul. Groups like The Backstreet Boys, 98 Degrees, New Kids on the Block, even the The Osmonds conveyed an urban sound without all the black stuff on it. Look closely to the white faces as Frankie Lymon belts out his tune. There’s an “Ewww, there’s black stuff all over it,” look on their faces. The racism/ indifference is clearly visible. They like the music yes, they love That Swingin Beat: but many are unable to wax too enthusiastic because he’s a black performer. So, keep the music, retain the Soul of what makes the song so catchy: But much like one does when they step in feces, scrape all that black stuff off of it. Then you got yourself a commercial hit.

    ReplyDelete
  3. My condolences to Percy Sledge. Without him, Michael's song wouldn't have been the hit made it(Fpr the most part, I loved when Percy sings it. Michael had nothing on him whatsoever)

    Ironically, last night I was looking at the TIMELIFE classic musical comericial. As a 70's kid, I grew up on Donna Summer, Diana Ross, The Brother's Johnson etc. I rememered looking forward to looking at shows like America Top 40 with Casey Kasem( RIP) and eventually Shadoe Stevens. Back in the day, when you seen these shows, you looked at how long a singer remained on the charts. You would see famous artists being on there for at least three months . These days, if they're lucky, remaining on the Billboard charts for a month is considered to be doing " good".t just goes to show you how bad the music industry has become.

    Iggy Azalea was mentioned on here and it makes me so mad for her to be referred to as the " Queen of rap" or that Macklemore being referred to as an " iconic" rapper. When I think of rapping queens, I think of Queen Latifah, Mc Lyte, Monie Love or Salt and Pepa and though she's considered to be a rocker during her time, if there is a White woman that comes close to be the queen of rap, it should have been Blondie.

    Even though I did like his "Thrift store " rap, Macklemore is not an iconic rapper. He isn't old and neither is his music. Again, rappers like the Sugar Hill Gang, Curtis Blow, Afrikka Bambataa( ah yes!) and if they want to go there with White male rappers, I would go with the Beastie Boys. They were iconic.

    Here is the funny thing about the more modern " iconic" White rappers/singers. Back when I was in high school, if a rapper was White and their tunes were catchy, they were played on Black radio stations. When I was in high school( which was in the early 80's), there were Black kids repeating the lyric of "Brass Monkey" by them or they..including me..was singing the lyrics to Duran Duran or Robert Palmer and I remembered even them being played on Black radio stations. Even though I don't listen to radio stations as much as I used to I notice one thing: I don't see Black kids rapping Iggy's or Macklemore songs nor do you hear them being played on Black radio stations.

    Macklemore made a respectful remarks on how more White parents are more comfortable with his music than let's say ..TI's raps. because it's whitewashed/watered down. Music of the past had melodious rhythms, beats and mostly , they told stories about something, someone,somebody or somewhere. I remembered when White parents were afraid of the clean raps orthe day. Now they're more ok with it..as long as the realism was taken out of it,along with just wanting to oversimplifying talent.

    Now that rap and and B have been severly whitewashed, I'm seeing the end results. Notice how it doesn't last long on the charts. Even Iggy's popularilty has went down,as well as Macklemore's.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It seemed like the only Black rapper White parents were comfortable with were Will Smith (then known as the Fresh Prince). And, like you said, rap told stories. Whether it was about partying, dancing, love, sex (remember 2 Live Crew?), social injustice, gang warfare, womanism, or just plain fun, there was all kinds of rap to listen to. Now everything sounds the same and is pointless.

      Delete
  4. I was talking with the husband about "American culture" (since I was out of the country at the time) and fast came to the conclusion that anything worth talking about originated from Black American culture. Origins.

    ReplyDelete
  5. "And today, you see the same shit happen. You have these AMAZING Black artists who get very little credit, while white newcomers show up, do half as good, and receive instant gratification. "Justin Timberlake is the modern face of R&B!" "Adele is the queen of big voices!" "Iggy represents the new generation of female rappers!""

    True! I just can't when I hear people talking about Eminem as the ultimate reference for hip hop. It reminds me a Korean idol group, they were told to have a "twerk concept" for a music video and guess who was the reference for this? Miley Cyrus! (they showed her video too) I was rolling my eyes...yes the "whiteout" spreads to other countries. I'm not really blaming Koreans though, the West is responsible for this "White is right" shit.

    ReplyDelete

This blog is strictly moderated. Everyone is now able to comment again, however, all Anonymous posts will be immediately deleted. Comments on posts more than 30 days old are generally dismissed, so try to stay current with the conversations.