Thursday, March 31, 2011

Yes. Yes. And, yes.

Just read this most excellent piece from Jozen Cummings over at The Awl. I urge you to check it out, especially for this excerpt:

It's not so much that the term "hipster R&B" is inaccurate. I'm no hipster, but if The Weeknd and Frank Ocean are getting mad love from people who consider themselves hipsters, then I suppose hipsters can call it whatever makes them feel comfortable. But as non-hipsters like to say, let's keep it all the way real. Calling it "hipster R&B" is a nice way of saying it's R&B that white people like (black hipsters notwithstanding), and here's my problem with that: It's myopic, lazy, and it sounds to me like a form of musical segregation that's not entirely based on genre.

Here's a proposal—how about we call it "nappy-headed pop"? If that sounds even slightly politically incorrect or lazy, then you understand my frustrations with the term "hipster R&B." It's not with the term "hipster"; it's with any hipster or white critic labeling a black artist "an R&B artist" just because he or she sings a little.

Couldn't have said it better myself. Oh, and also:

All this automatic categorization of black artists who sing harkens back to the social roots of the R&B genre. Before R&B was even called R&B, the record industry and magazines like Billboard categorized it as "race music," shorthand for any black artists who sang with a backbeat behind them. For years, white artists who made similar music never had to worry about being designated as "race music" until 1958, when Billboard began using "R&B" instead. The switch made it possible for acts like the late, great Teena Marie and current artists like Robin Thicke to chart in the R&B category. Unfortunately, many critics still referred (and refer) to those artists with the term "blue-eyed soul," which is a nice way of saying they're white singers that black people like. Equally hackneyed is calling black singers who white people like "hipster R&B"—or, for that matter, "nappy-headed pop".

You Say Hipster R&B, I Say Nappy-Headed Pop. Either Way, It's Offensive.
[The Awl]

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