Controversial Themes in Black Popular Music Essay

1767 Words Jun 9th, 2013 8 Pages
Controversial Themes in Black Popular Music
Controversial themes have always been explored in popular Black music. Because Black experiences influence Black mainstream culture (as with any culture), the social climate of historical eras influence how these themes are explored in popular culture, specifically in the form of music. The presence of controversial themes like racisms, sex and violence in black forms of music like the Blues, R&B/ Soul, Disco, Funk, and Hip-Hop are shaped by the happenings in the Black community during the time periods that each form was popular. Thus, the presence of such themes can be used to compare today’s popular culture, through Hip Hop and Contemporary R&B, with past popular culture, through
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George describes Cooke as an embodiment of the ambitions of black people (George 77). Although the song was only a modest hit for Cooke, in comparison to his other singles, it later came to represent the Civil Right Movement. With the death of Civil Right leader Martin Luther King Jr, the escalating conflict in Vietnam and the growing popularity of the Black Power Movement, Black music was a reflection of how Black people were felling about racial and social issues in America during the late 1960’s. James Brown’s 1968 Funk hit Say It Loud-I’m Black and I’m Proud became one of the most popular Black Power anthems of the era. In the song Brown proclaims, “We won’t quit moving til we get what we deserve.” Brown also advocates Black empowerment with 1969’s I Don’t Want Nobody to Give Me Nothing (Open Up the Door I’ll Get It Myself).
While early forms of Black music seemed to be very socially and racially conscious, modern forms seem to have moved away from racial themes. In early Hip-Hop however racial themes were still explored quite a bit. For example, Public Enemy’s monumental hit Fight the Power (1989) states, “People, people we are the same. No we're not the same cause we don't know the game. What we need is awareness…We got to fight the powers that be”. Nevertheless, the use of racial themes in Hip Hop and other Black music have since become somewhat obsolete. Some might argue that the reason why racial issues are not often

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