How can you call something “BlakRoc” when the black folks on the project only rap and the rockers are all white?
BlakRoc is the name of Damon Dash’s upcoming project, a collaboration between white rockers The Black Keys and rappers such as Mos Def, Q-Tip, Ludacris, and Raekwon, to name a few. Ordinarily, I could care less what Damon Dash does. But in choosing this name for the project, he crossed a line: You can’t match black rappers and white rockers and call it “BlakRoc.”
No, BlakRoc has nothing to do with black rock, something I’ve spent nearly the last three years championing on my blog. The conflation of the two is offensive. There’s too much history there. It’s like he’s acknowledging the existence of black rock with his middle finger.
“BlakRoc” is a slap in the face to those of us who have been working to develop audiences for black artists who don’t fit neatly into pre-conceived categories. It’s an affront to those of us who still face apathy and dismissiveness when it comes to the place of blacks in beyond hip hop and R&B.
It’s galling, too, coming on the heels of Dash’s former partner, Jay-Z, saying bands like Grizzly Bear were going to push hip hop. Some hipsters are going to save hip hop? Great. Statements like this ignore all of the black artists who are embracing live music, forming bands, telling more substantive stories, and the audiences who are supporting black alternative music in growing numbers. That’s going to force hip hop to evolve.
Latoya’s Note: I’m a big fan of the work Fields does at BoldAsLove, and just found out they released a free compilation called “Fire in the Dark: Songs from the New Black Imagination.” You can download it on Amazon. I like “Freedom is Over,” “Everybody,” “On Planet Earth,” “Icon,” “The Last Time We’re Here,” and “The Ballad of Fletcher Reede,” but they are all worth a listen. – LDP