The Commodification of Black Music – Jordan Bishop


For several decades, African-American Artist/Performers have contributed significantly to various musical testimonies and configurations developments. Their capabilities of effectively expressing their hardship through their lyrical narratives allowed many to appeal to their emotional incentives. From the beginning of time, African-Americans have consistently progressed within the realm of Music, practicing the deliverance and tone of their musical components, subsequently providing a foundation that has set upon what is music in the present day. Though the impact of such African-American Artist/Performers is culturally significant, their contributions’ accreditation is inadequate. Americans, specifically White Americans, have manipulated and exploited the talents of these Artist/Performers to promote their own cultural and financial gain, enabling a lack of consideration towards these originators concerning Black Music. 

The Progression and Impact

As previously mentioned, throughout history, African-American Artist/Performers have cultivated a musical scene that has been admired and inspired by many, installing this popularity within their transformative take on music. White Americans envious of this popularity began to see opportunities for themselves. During the enslavement period,  Black Music was a simple escape from reality, a way for those to physically and verbally express the hardships of their experiences; lyrical narratives of liberation were a common theme within most of these songs. White Americans, specifically Slaveholders and other conservative-minded individuals, look to these songs as pleasurable and enjoyable, failing to connect and validate the emotional perspective of those they oppressed. They began to sell and force the performance of their songs amongst White Abolitionists, catering to this idea of their music only being for their own entertainment purposes. This insensitive action being the first step within the financial exploitation of Black Music. 

As years passed and the Music Industry began to progress within America, African-American Artist/Performers still lacked the accreditation for their talents and efforts within the Industry, White Artists/Performers shifting the narrative of those who created current popularized musical configurations. These Artist created incentives that installed discriminative and unjust conclusions upon African-American musical contributions, enabling Radio Station and Record Companies to shun the development of these Artist. White Artist/Performers were now stationed at the forefront of the music scene, manipulating the public to believe their creation of music was brought upon by their own capabilities when in reality, they were simply appropriating off the Black music scene. 

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