Ahhh, yes. Let’s take a trip down memory lane. One that smells like appropriation and mediocrity. From Halloween, hairstyles, to even black vernacular, we just can’t seem to be able to enjoy anything without someone wanting to make a profit from it.
So how about we take a look at the last 20 years where white artists were heavily ready to cater to a demographic that didn’t want them in the first place.
In 1990, Vanilla Ice released the hit that is “Ice Ice Baby”. His only hit, that sampled “Under Pressure” by Queen and also written by Freddie Mercury himself. With lines like:
“Quick to the point to the point no faking
I’m cooking MCs like a pound of bacon
Burning them if you ain’t quick and nimble
I go crazy when I hear a cymbal“
I’m wondering how easy it would have been for any 5th grader to come up with this. But even worse, take a look at the music video. It feels like a huge joke.
Justin Timberlake has been partaking in black culture for the last 10 years now. His entire discography after NSYNC was over pretty much nothing but R&B. Hit after hit, from “Cry Me a River” to “Suit and Tie”, JT is not shy to profiting off of black culture. Back in 2016, Justin tweeted that he was inspired by actor Jesse Williams during Williams notable speech at the BET Awards. People then proceeded to tweet to Justin.
— Ernest Owens (@MrErnestOwens) June 27, 2016
Sadly, Justin didn’t stay in his lane and tweeted back with “Oh, you sweet soul. The more you realize that we are the same, the more we can have a conversation. Bye.” Though the singer apologized hours later (and deleted the tweet), it just goes to show that ignorance is alive, no matter how many millions you are making off of black culture. Which is ironic as Williams’ speech catered to those who are ignorant feeling the need to say something when it is not needed.
Miss Miley Cyrus. Hannah Montana. Miley Stewart. After leaving behind the sweet, pop star life at Disney, Miley decided that she wanted everything to do with black culture. Which is surprising as she had several hits outside of it. But then “23” was released and Cyrus looked like she was enjoying the culture a little too much.
And we’ll never forget about the situation with the Robin Thicke performance. This year though, Miley jumped out of her lane, crashed the car, and headed to “Malibu” claiming that she was done with hip-hop culture for its misogynistic themes. She quite literally profited off of black culture, got her money, and once that money started to run dry, went right back to her roots.
Katy Perry climbed to success for various pop hits. Just like Miley, she had a substantial amount of acclaim for hits like “Hot&Cold” and “Last Friday Night”. But then Katy dipped her feet into the culture. “Dark Horse” came out in 2013 and had white people shook. The visuals for the music video made me even more uncomfortable though. As well as several other looks she has produced.
Let’s be real here, time and time again we will see various celebrities in general profiting from my culture as well as other people of color’s culture. Your fave has probably done it. Sadly, when black people do certain things, wear their hair a certain way, talk a certain way, or do just about anything, they are seen as negatives. Ghetto, trashy, raggedy, unattractive. But once white people get a hold of those things, it becomes trendy, fashionable, cute.
Therein lies the problem. That while my natural hair and braids leave me without a job, you as a white person with “dreads” or cornrows is a fashion statement. I’m not here for it. But I’ll leave it at this video for some food for thought.
The list goes on, but here are some honorable mentions for artists profiting off of black culture.
1. Riff Raff
2. Iggy Azalea
3. Essentially all of “White Girl Mob” but mainly Lil Debbie because she is the only one still making music.
But shout out to all the artists who stay in their lane and are being great allies to the black community. You guys are the real ones. Know any other artist or celebrity that is profiting off the culture?
Tell me in the comments below!