As we get further into the heart of the music industry's big season, there have been some major developments.
I've said it before and I'll say it again….."There is nothing new in music. History is destined to repeat itself." It seems that the new thing in music is the return of the white artist who does black music. Oh, we've seen glimmers of it over the past couple of decades. Artists like Vanilla Ice, Snow, Jeremy Jordan, Jon B, Joradn Hill, Teena Marie, Pink, Rita Ora, Anastacia, Fergie, Christina Aguilera and Lisa Stansfield are all good examples of "blue eyed soul". But I guess the mack of all daddies would be The King himself….Elvis.
When I was growing up, my grandmother hated Elvis Presley. She would tell me about an interview he gave where he said that "All a black man could do for him was shine his shoes". Ironic since his fame and fortune were built on the sound of the "Black Man". He sounded like a black man for his time and danced like one too. He was the ultimate taboo in the perfect package.
At the turn of the century there was a very unpolitical-term called "wiggers", probably invented by some racist who didn't like the rise of Hip Hop in white suburbia. As the second Bush years became America's thorn in our side, the term sort of got lost in the shuffle as the Republican Party started organizing what would become the Tea Party and divided the country on Gay Rights. But it would seem that "The Return of The Wigger" is here with a vengeance!
If Lady GaGa is finding it hard to get her footing on the Billboard charts, it's probably because Justin Timberlake, Robin Thicke, Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber are the new Elvises of our time. But the difference is that instead of white music companies and producers making the money off these artists, it's people like Pharrell Williams, Usher and Mike Will who are the pimps this time around.
GaGa's new album just dropped and even though she has a few tricks up her sleeves with tracks with R. Kelly, Too Short and Twista I don't think this will make her street creds as a R&B or Hip Hop artist ring true. Artists like Enrique Iglesias and Joe Jonas have tried tracks with Hip Hop artists like Lil' Wayne and never even got played in the clubs.
Everyone is talking about Justin Bieber and his antics lately, but I am not surprised. The majority of African-American male Hip Hop artists come from broken homes where their fathers were not present. Justin comes from the same background. So, of course he finds similarities between himself and Juicy J or Lil' Twist. The combo of lots of money and too much time on his hands is proving to be the undoing of his career. Dave Chapelle used to do a segment on his show called "When Keeping It Real Goes Wrong". It would seem to me that the Biebs would learn something from the reruns. Running around with his shirt off, spitting on fans from his hotel room, pissing in a bucket outside the men's room at a fancy restaurant and being filmed in a brothel in Brazil by a prostitute sounds like some fucked up dare that a black rapper would give him as a test to see if he is down.
But try as he may, I don't think that all of his new "I'm Not A Kid Anymore" image attempts will even put a dent in the overnight makeover of Miley Cyrus. Like Madonna, no one can change their image with such precision as a woman. Miley can do whatever she wants and still survive any backlash. And it seems that today's white girl who acts black is chic. Her performance on the MTV Awards with Robin Thicke changed the Pop Game this year. Lady GaGa and Katy Perry can battle it out for their spots on the charts, but whatever Miley does for the next couple of months will cement her position in Pop history.
It's cool to be "black" right now. And I predict it will be for at least another year in the music industry. Kesha was pretty trashy with her image, but she wasn't a Disney Princess. Americans love to watch a good girl go bad.
For the past month, I have been bombarded with requests for this downtempo Hip Hop track called "23". "Can you play the new Miley Cyrus?" they ask with such urgency. The funny thing is that it is not her song at all. She is a feature on the track. It's actually credited to Mike Will Made It. Miley, Wiz Khalifa & Juicy J are just the voices on the track. So, it seems black artists and producers have decided to put their new friends out on the block (even though their backgrounds are very much like Drake's…….never "started from the bottom", but they're here).
Now, some would say that Eminem should be included in this list, but I say no. He and The Beastie Boys are definitely white Hip Hop artists, but I have never mistaken them for someone black. When I first heard "Physical Attraction" by Madonna, you could not tell me that she wasn't black. The production and the sound was purely 80's R&B. And Teena Marie was definitely a black woman if you were just listening and not watching her. Rick Astley's voice definitely could have been a black one. The Stock, Aitken and Waterman production screamed that he was not! And my crushes on Jeremy Jordan and Jon B. were legendary!
But I think Justin Timberlake has found the balance between doing R&B music and still being considered "white". He's got a great voice and a great sensibility about fashion and projects. He's a good actor and comedian who does not seem to take himself too seriously (a mistake Bieber is making over and over again). And on the gay scene, Jason Walker is definitely the Rainbow version of Timberlake. His vocals on Quentin Harris' cover of After 7's "Can't Stop" he is serving up some southern style church gyrl riffs and falsetto.
I actually wish the Gay Community would stand behind their openly gay artists like him, Colton Ford and Me'shell N'DegeOcello.
So, when Sam Phillips signed Elvis back in 1954 a new formula was born and now it continues…. just not the way it was back then.