Music made by Black Artists has battled against underrepresentation for many years. In the present day, it is no surprise that it consistently dominate the charts. Yet, of course, that came with a lot of sacrifices and plenty of hard work. It has stood on its ground for so long that people outside of the culture have forgotten just how hard it was to reach this point.
So there has been a lot of calling out of our names. Apparently, Black music has only corrupted everything else. It has made music as a whole “less valuable.” It was easy to get here. ANYONE can perfect the craft of what is the art of Hip-Hop/R&B/Rap. These are just some assumptions made by non-Black artists.
And although yes, technically, anyone can do this. Not everyone can do it as we do.
Singer/Songwriter and “Rapper,” Post Malone has been a prime example of someone who executes the art yet doesn’t see the necessity of knowing the history. As he stated in his most controversial interview to date, “If you’re looking for lyrics, if you’re looking to cry, if you’re looking to think about life, don’t listen to hip-hop,” he said, adding that “whenever I want to sit down and have a nice cry, I’ll listen to some Bob Dylan.”
This undermines the Black experience within rap. It erases the history of where rap began. Because his experience of rap doesn’t conceal those depths, he is able to undermine the power it carries. This also perpetuates the stereotype that rap music (or Black music, for that matter) shouldn’t be praised. That it is not good enough to strike emotion.
Post Malone has since apologized. But we cannot say the same for Louis Tomlinson.
In a recent interview, Louis Tomlinson (former member of One Direction) expressed that his fellow member, Harry Styles was bold for releasing a record that didn’t match the “urban sounds” on the radio. He also goes on to say that it “frustrates” him that all he hears on the radio is “urban sounds.” This notion is arguable, but it still stands as something uncomfortable to read. The statement can be written off as blissfully ignorant, yet shouldn’t be addressed as such and just left at that stance.
Especially since of course, he is not the only one to insinuate and say such a thing. E.g.:
It goes beyond “urban sounds.” Our history is one with much of a backbone. Tomlinson fails to realize that what his former band member created derives from Black art. In a subtle racist statement, he insinuates that what is at the top is not worthy of being there. This narrative implies that being pretentious is the only way to evaluate music, and even more specifically; “urban music.”
The real question is, what possessed Louis Tomlinson to think the condensed notion of the word “urban” would not carry a negative connotation? Why is there such a desire to be pretentious about music? And why do Black artists/Black art have to fall victim to that concept?
The only way to solve this issue is to talk about our history with pride. Let them know that our music is beautiful, honest and revolutionary. It is not for your pretentious ideal, nor to compare to why your favorite artist cannot chart as high as we worked for.