The Difference is Intent.

When asked what difference does it make when a white artist makes music that emulates the work of Black artist, the first thing that comes to mind is intent. I think of how intent is a major portion of action and how important it is when analyzing an artist’s work. Many White artists see the persona that Black artists have created and try to emulate it. Though the music can sound similar, the difference between music made by a Black artist and music by a White artist is the intention. Even if a white artist is the most rhythmically inclined and can dance, sing/rap, and perform like a black artist, imitating the intention is not the same. The amount of passion and emotion that is in soul and r&b music can be mimicked by White artists but the intent is not the same. A White rapper or hip-hop artist, even if they come from the same background as a Black artist, the intent is not the same.

When thinking about the differences, I also think about the White artists who have made a niche for themselves within a Black dominated/created genre. Black people laid the foundation for much of the music we see in the world today. There are more mainstream versions of this music that a more palatable to the majority White consumer but the fact still remains that Black Americans have built the American music industry. I can appreciate when a White artist sees the genres that Black people have created and instead of mimicking and profiting off of their mockery, they create within a subset of that genre that and make music that sounds unique. I can appreciate the artists talent more when they create their own style rather than stealing from and imitating Black artists. But regardless of what is created, what makes the difference between music made by Black artists and music within the same genre made by a White artist is intent.

Neely Woodroffe

Neely Woodroffe

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