Tag Archives: Elvis Presley

Quoted: The Blurred Lines of Blue-Eyed Soul

Is Robin Thicke the next great soul singer or a pretender to the throne? Michael A. Gonzales holds forth:

WPB-Radio disc jockey and soul music aficionado Jammer Daniels explains, “Historically, when you look at early pop history and see how much Elvis Presley stole from Little Richard or Pat Boone from Chuck Berry, of course people are suspect whenever White artists start tinkering with ‘our’ music. Whether it’s Eminem in with rap or David Sanborn in jazz, it is easy see why Black people sometimes don’t want to share our culture. Because we’re afraid people might steal it.”

While the less said about corny Pat Boone the better, the myth that Elvis Presl

19-rosen-robin-thickeey stole the soul from Black musicians has been publicized by critics and other recording artists (Public Enemy, Living Colour) for decades. But did he really? Does it maybe make more sense that Elvis, himself a Memphis boy attuned to ways of country culture, was simply inspired by the same gutbucket blues and screeching gospel as his Black contemporaries?

According to New York Times writer Mel Watkins, who penned the late Black cultural critic Albert Murray’s obituary this week in the New York Times, Murray was adamant that “the currents of the Black experience—expressed in language and music and rooted in slavery—run through American culture, blending with European and American Indian traditions and helping to give the nation’s culture its very shape and sound.” Read more…

Blacking It Up: Hip Hop, Race and Identity

By Guest Contributor VC, cross-posted from Postbourgie

Not long ago I had the pleasure of seeing a documentary released by California Newsreel entitled Blacking Up: Hip-Hop’s Remix of Race and Identity by filmmaker Robert Clift. The film opens by taking us on a kind of behind-the-scenes look at white american suburban culture in a way that mass media rarely does.

We see high school dance team routines that include bandanas and hip-hop-inspired choreography. We’re introduced to white people who have dealt with harassment from their white peers for allegedly  “acting” black. We hear from personalities of different occupations and opinions (from Paul Mooney to Russell Simmons) concerning their thoughts on race in hip-hop and the ways in which white participation plays into the racial history of music in America. It is basically an entertaining and very well-thought-out exploration of the racial, residential and historical aspects that influence how we begin to consider the complex and ever-enduring question of where to “draw lines” when discussing white enjoyment and/or consumption of black cultures. Continue reading