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May 11, 2010



An important discussion, obviously. And messy, since no-one sensible actually holds any of the pure positions in it! :)

It's interesting that you start off talking about (at some level) first-world/"white" appropriations of third-world/"black" music, then eventually switch over to an article/set of videos that deal with the opposite. Would you consider them the same thing? I know I can be too much on the (feminist?) power trip, but I think there's a lot of difference based on what the effect of the appropriation is, purely in presence terms. The effects on the aesthetics is all well and good, but it's also a struggle for visibility and voice. In some ways.

On the other hand I still think there's a difference in aesthetic expression between the the two sides of that power dichotomy. Losing "influences" is easy enough if you're able to travel and access freely, if you're "neutrally unethnic" (ie. white) in the eyes of racist society, if you have the post-colonial position of interpretation. If you're economically independent! It's damn easy to divorce from any influence if you don't have to please a community to earn a living, or have considerable free time experimenting. And of course, not necessarily for the better...


How come the RSS feed hasn't updated since Sundays post?


I had a (female black) professor in college who insisted once in a music history class that black/African/African-American musical culture was unique in that Africans sang in the fields to make themselves feel better, and that they sang the blues at home in their sharecropper's shacks to make themselves feel better. That just sounded like so much self-aggrandizing BS to me-- every culture has it's own folk music that serves the same purpose she was describing. I don't see how music from one culture is somehow more valid than from another culture; validity comes from honesty, as opposed to commercial music made to sell cd/LP units or hawk goods on TV. There are plenty of European folk musics that are as soulful as anything from Africa or Asia or South America (Scandinavian hardanger fiddle music, Bulgarian folk music, British folk songs, etc.) Is Fairport Convention authentic or not? I mean, they sing their native folk songs, but then they "taint" it with American rock instrumentation. . .

I was discussing with a friend how Gram Parsons records sounded so soulful, and a kid standing nearby laughed at us because he thought it ridiculous that any American country music could be considered "soulful", and only blues/RnB had a monopoly on "soulfulness."

Sam Cooke

What's up with the resentment, Rosko? It might be a dubious claim that "soulfulness" is an essence somehow monopolized by African diasporic traditions. But claiming "uniqueness", or tracing one's cultural products to traditions that are considerably less secular than many of the ones you've listed above (hence, "Soul" music), is not the same as asserting that it is more "valid" than others.

In this case, I hope you have an axe to grind with how European identity is privileged in the concept of "classicism" too?


Man, that lil wayne doppelganger video is blowing my mind over and over again.

dave quam

Great words Boima, your posts over here have been so on point. I think about this issue pretty much everyday, and I still haven't really come to any cohesive conclusions.

Also, anybody that thinks that country music cannot be considered soulful is A FUCKING IDIOT. A lot of guys writing soul records in the south were writing country songs too. Also, one of my favorite country singers is black (Charley Pride).

Race ain't nothin but a construct.

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