|There's no arguing with "cool," however.|
Alex Shephard notes that, with the recent death of Prince, the pantheon of rock survivors is uniformly pasty in colour. Jack Hamilton wrote a book devoted to the matter -- Just Around Midnight: Rock & Roll & The Racial Imagination (Harvard Press), excerpt here. Colin Vandenberg reviews it, and wonders, "Who are we, who have stolen and suppressed so much, to warn artists of colour against claiming any art as inalienably theirs?"
Really, Colin? Why be so circumspect? I say be strident, dammit! Tell those coloured folk -- tell your own porcelain-skinned progeny, while you're at it -- exactly what varieties of music they may rightfully claim as their own, to the exclusion of all others. In my experience, the end result is pure gold.
|And it looks something like this -- clean, innocent fun!|
If one can somehow overlook the unpardonable sin of cultural appropriation, the cross-pollination of musical modalities becomes a truly curious business to contemplate. There are blues performers of Asian descent who have a Stevie-Ray mastery of the form -- yet the thought of any of them "making it big" is laughable. Similarly, one could argue American R&B seems primed to discover and exploit the shiny delights of K-Pop -- but just how likely is that?
Some outliers I'm personally fond of: American Hardcore, a variety of punk music that could not be whiter, was pretty much kicked off by a black group -- Bad Brains -- who were universally acknowledged in the scene as the standard that everyone fell short of. Not much love for them from their own community, mind you. Prior to them was a band called Death -- same story, pretty much.
My adolescence ran from the end of the '70s to the late '80s. When I finally slouched into adulthood I identified the two brightest stars in the Rock 'n' Roll firmament -- the two performers who most obviously elevated the genre into "Art" (pronounced, "Awhhh-at") -- as Frank Zappa and George Clinton. Currently I'd say Clinton's influence has the longer tail, and not just because he's still alive. Make of that what you will.
Anyway, let's bring it back to Jack Hamilton: he notes the Stones have "done a solid" with their most recent album by acknowledging and re-introducing their (black, American) forebears to a predominantly white audience. Here I have to agree -- the first thing I did after my initial spin of Blue & Lonesome was head to our Cultural Gatekeepers and spend a few nickels on the original recordings. Currently the number of plays between the originals and the white band who covered them are neck-and-neck. Hard to say who will eventually gain the upper hand, but it could well be the paler group.
What can I say? I like the fuzz and clatter.
|Endnote: RIP, William Onyeabor - musical genius,|
recluse, West African industrialist, servant of Christ.