A few years ago, Solange Knowles went on a passionate Twitter spree in response to white male indie bloggers poorly assessing Brandy’s then-recent album Two Eleven. She tweeted, “Some of these music blogs and Labels could actually benefit from hiring people who REALLY understand the culture of R&B to write about R&B.” The music business was built brick by brick off the backs, shoulders, heart ache and pain, of black people, and everyone is just exhausted”.
I sat back and wondered about this topic in general, thinking about my short time in the industry so far. I saw what many black artist were saying, and it does get exhausting. You feel like your getting passed over and your not sure why. Your making music with your same white counterparts, using the same producers.. having the same lawyer and Management team.. but yet being the one looked over and “put on the shelf “.
Trying our hardest to stay positive, We give them what they ask for. Staying silent for awhile, avoiding bringing race into music conversations. Not wanting to point out the obvious because you don’t want to be that black musician that complains about black issues. -Ang Low -
At most Grammy Awards shows, every singer nominated for Best New Artist or Record Of The Year is usually white. Similarly, music companies such as BMI, ASCAP, Pandora, Live Nation, Apple Music, Spotify, AEG, Warner Music Group, SXSW, Clear Channel Communications, and Universal Music Group are all lead by teams of predominantly white executives. For an art form that’s supposed to be breaking down barriers rather than building them up, that doesn’t seem good.
We see throughout the years urban culture expressing views on the industry standard through rap and soul. We also saw what was more commercial. Things about gangs and violence, drugs.. normal life for some, but still something that became commercial and the new standard for making music. So that is what labels look for when signing a black artist most times.. hood stories and how you overcame them, or just hood stories.
I remember speaking to my manager about deals sought out, wondering why and what the difference was between myself and other artist on the roster. My manager at the time saying to me. “Oh jeez, your one of those artist”. In my head thinking, “yes, shouldn’t I be”? Shouldn’t I wonder why i’m working with the same producer’s, have the same lawyer and management team, perform as well as my white counterparts on the same roster, but don’t get the same deals as them. There was something wrong and I was the only one saying the obvious.
No one tells you that saying no is OK! Its ok to make music that no one likes. Its ok to make music that you think is good and speaks to you. Lets face it..if your gonna be in the game for the long run, be in it for the long run trying to be your self. If they see you, they see you. If they don't, they don't! Make Music that inspires You!