Controversial Themes in Black Popular Music Essay

Words: 1767
Pages: 8

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
…show more content…
While that is not true, for some reason racial issues do not seem pertinent enough in the lives of Black people to be explored in Black music with the same frequency as other themes. There are few of examples of racial themes being explored in today’s popular black music by so-called socially conscious rappers. For example, Jay Z’s song 99 Problems (2003) talks about being racially profiled by the police. These types of songs, racially themed songs that achieve mainstream success, are nonetheless few and far between.
In today’s Hip-Hop and Contemporary R&B, sex is one of the most dominant themes. This however is not new to Black forms of music. A form of R&B that was popular in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s called Race Records drew in a young crowd (White and Black) with its sexually charged lyrics. Race Records would later go on to influence Rock and Roll and songs would become a vehicle for artists like Elvis Presley. Singer Wynonie Harris became a success with Race Records like All She Wants to Do Is Rock (1949) and I Like My Baby’s Pudding (1950), both of which contained sexually suggestive lyrics. In the former, Harris proclaims, “My baby don’t like airplanes, she don’t like those streamline trains. She just wants to stay at home and huckle buck her daddy all night long.” While these songs are suggestive, they do not compare to the blatant use of sexual references and images in modern Black music. However, during a time in America when conformity