While it’s hard to deny that the root of most popular music genres — rock, pop, soul, reggae — comes from the black experience around the world, now that “black” music has gone mainstream, many are wondering if it even exists anymore.
Recently, famed London-based garage DJ Wookie had an interesting take on the state of black music: It’s a thing of the past.
“Back in the day I used to get asked to remix a song to get played in the clubs. Now I’m being asked to do remixes for the radio, because our music is no longer underground, it is commercial.”
Like many black artists, Wookie’s gripe is with those who have appropriated black music but still try to profit from its origins.
“We always make up a new style of music and everyone jumps on it, like Skrillex with dubstep,” he explains. “My gripe with it is it is not dubstep. Where I come from, reggae music is synonymous with those two words, dub and steppers, and I don’t hear anything from those elements in dubstep music.”
Like many musicians who look at today’s crop of artists as less-than-musical because they don’t know much about instrumentation and the mechanics of music, Wookie says today’s producers are why music has lost its way. “A lot of producers actually can’t play (an instrument) or even have a keyboard in their studio. As far as they are concerned, everything can be drawn in on a computer. That’s why music now has a much more rigid mechanical sound.
“Music usually needs melody, but some current music just has a beat and noise. I remember hearing some of the new dubstep stuff and thinking, ‘What the hell is this? How are you supposed to dance to this?’”
What do you think? Does “black music” still exist?