The other day I was in the left hand turning lane of State Street turning westbound on Congress Blvd. My windows were open a little, and my Rashid Khan, Raag Miyan Ki Todi recording got abruptly interrupted by a middle-aged black woman in a mini van next to me blasting Sexyback by Justin Timberlake and totally rockin to it in her driver’s seat. She was swaying side-to-side with the beat, waving her hand in the air, and just thoroughly enjoying the song. I felt excited, I wanted to find the radio station that was playing the song and rock out with her, it was awesome. The moment passed with the green arrow, but heading west on 290 I ended up turning off my CD and shuffling through radio stations looking for one that was playing the song. “yea.”
It’s a hot song, what can I say. And both black people (the people representing the music he’s re-doing) and white people (pop-majority) are digging his music. Am I the only one who sees this going on? Looking around on the net, I found some information reflecting similar perceptions. Here are reviews of JT’s new album in New York Magazine and the Washington Post that both make comparisons between him and Prince (a completely unfair comparison, cause come on, Prince?? a more appropriate comparison would be between JT and Prince’s left pinkie, and even then, Prince would still be more dope). More directly to the point is this summary of a panel discussion entitled “Are white artists like Eminem, Justin Timberlake and Christiana Aguilera appropriating black music?”. Which suggests:
…that the industry was keen to promote white artists performing black music, but reluctant to invest commensurate resources in black artists performing black music or specific types of black music. Although participants felt that white artists could participate within black music genres, so long as they acknowledged their sources and influences, there was however a view that there was a deliberate “political” and “racist” policy to sell black music styles with proven commercial potential using “safe” white faces.
But regardless of how you talk about art and audience, his music is still dope. Give it up. Lol, and regardless of whether you credit him or his producers, a lot of what he ends up putting out is dope, and makes you wanna bounce or rock to it in some way. What are you gonna do, not enjoy his music? Are we capable of not enjoying music for political reasons? I think R. Kelly has a racist asian fetish and is a pedophile, but I still find myself bobbin my head to his beats… I won’t buy any of his albums, but I don’t think any of us can stop ourselves from enjoying music… so as a listener, where do personal politics and music collide?