Commodification of African-American Music

Pre-Commodification: Exploitation

Throughout the Survey of African American music, the Europeans commodifying the Africans being brought to America began with the exploitation of them through slavery. Music was used to exercise the slaves and ensure that they were active on the ships they travelled on using the music created by the Africans. Along with the music, the colonizers took their instruments such as the djembe, bones, kora, and banjo to use to their benefit, while hurting the African Americans being exploited for their body, culture, and music. By taking control of the African Americans, the Europeans established themselves as the superiors who the creative Blacks had to look to for validation.

Music Being Used for Profit

The Commodification of African- American music was established by the colonizers who were determined to power over the artistry of the African-Americans. This is an earlier example of how the arts of Black people were taken and used to make money off of, which is still seen today throughout the world in fashion, arts, and especially music. When many artists began to migrate to the states where music was booming, many were signed by European producers who knew they would capitalize off of the sound that they would not be able to produce without the black artists. For example, the genre of HipHop created a culture for African Americans to express their lives, views, and daily experiences as African Americans living in the United States. HipHop was first seen as “noise” with vulgar language and “exclusive to blacks” because the white Americans just did not understand it, when artists began to speak about issues that directly affected the black community, the entire HipHop genre, began to be seen as a total threat. The government did not want the matters that the artists were speaking on to be so accessible to everyone else in the country and they labeled them as “public enemies. When all of the tactics did not work it seemed like they said “if we can’t beat them, we should join them” but become their superior. They took the culture of HipHop and made it appeasing to all of America, which ensured for the lack of actual experience and more about the rapper’s rich lifestyle that they obtain while employed by the colonizers. 

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