Appropriation VS Inspiration
Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber, and now Katy Perry. It seems like the appropriation wheel just keeps spinning these days. Or is the love for the hip-hop is just that widely spread and enjoyed by the world more? Either way here we are.... where is the line?
Over the years Hip-Hop has by far been one of the most influential genres of all time. It is increasingly becoming a fascination with the rest of the world and for the black community, it's just.. us. We're that dope! Now forgive me for sounding narcissistic but you have to admit that everyone pulls from what we are doing at the time and then ends up putting a little spin on it. I think one of the most scariest things is when it's done poorly. When I watch Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus, Iggy Azaela or a number of other artists tap into the Hip Hop community without understanding us, I have to admit at first I am very upset. My initial thought is to go on some tirade about how these artists have no clue about us as a people, a community etc. After a while I immediately ask myself a series of questions. I encourage every one to ask themselves when you see this, is this what our culture looks like to the world?
Let's take the newest contestant miss Katy Perry. Yes, she might like the drums and the flow but does she really appreciate Hip-Hop or is trying to piggy back off of the success the Migos are currently having? Nobody will truly know, but I ask you this, where was she before they blew up? A lot will argue that these are what you call culture vultures, but are their hearts in the right place? Do they appreciate the culture or just know what works and financially gains from it? Are they at rallies? Protests? Speaking up for black social issues? Ehhh not so much. But what does it take to crossover from Appropriation to Appreciation? What does it take for them be accepted?
Now we have a little dispute here that might find you at a contradiction. Bruno Mars has proverbially kicked down the funk doors and is doing the damn thing! Is this not the same thing? Is he still appropriating the music and an era that was a staple in the black community? What is Bruno doing differently that Katy isn't? I'll tell you my opinion, sonically he sounds great and if you do the music well, we as a people sometimes give a pass.
Appreciation of culture can be a very difficult thing to successfully complete. Some get blessings from legends and some will show appreciation in the press runs by giving musical background and influences. I feel that coming from the black community is the only real way to know our struggle as a people and that's the only true pass you will get. Black people have been ripped of all kinds of things including our musical expression, it's a very touchy subject but in the end this will always be a reoccurring thing and the cycle will never end. Some acts are great and some look like they are mocking us. What can we do?