Opinion

What Makes It “White People Music”?

Generalizing the music that we don’t listen to as “white people music” simply because we aren’t fans of it is wrong. We use the classification lightheartedly but don’t we take offense when they say we only listen to rap?

When award shows like the Grammys come on, we plan when we’re going to take a break from the show to go move laundry, make more food, knock out a quick task we’ve been putting off, send an email, etc. This time comes when an artist we don’t listen to is performing and we simply don’t care about them enough to watch. There’s nothing wrong with this at all. However, generalizing the music that we don’t listen to as “white people music” simply because we aren’t fans of it is wrong. We use the classification lightheartedly but don’t we take offense when they say we only listen to rap?

What if I told you country music and rap music were the same thing with different production? Think about it: They both have songs where they boast about vehicles, alcohol and women. They both have songs where they tell a story of love or loss. They both have songs where the topic is literally just having a good time. These topics quite simply overlap and thus are not only for white people. Let’s have a look at punk, where topics include: anti-government ideals, unity among people and truth spreading. Is this not the blueprint of a conscious rapper? Sure there may be more yelling when it comes to punk but when you’re passionate about something there’s no limit to how you can express it. Or, let’s look at music with no or very few words such as EDM. People dance to EDM just like breakdancers danced to drum breaks back in the day and even now. To someone not familiar with it, both types of music may just sound like repetitive noise. But to the dancer, it is art.

“White people music” genres have also often crossed over into genres we’ve called our own multiple times throughout history. Depending on your age or knowledge, you may know about the collaboration between rock band Aerosmith and hip hop legends RUN DMC. Or, the collaborative album between Linkin Park and Jay-Z. To refer to more recent years, rap projects like Rebirth, 17 and KIDS SEE GHOSTS all have live or sampled guitars.

We can celebrate black excellence in the music world (yes there is a lot of it) but should not condemn others genres simply because we are under represented in them. All music can be appreciated for multiple reasons and good music knows no color.

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