Guardian Unlimited | The Guardian | Shadow over Craig David's US tour: The "reverse racism" that marked the careers of jazz musicians such as Billie Holliday and Louis Armstrong is now threatening to blight the path of British R&B singer Craig David. More than 50 years after Armstrong was criticised by black newspapers for working with a white trombonist, David, 21, is being encouraged to drop white guitarist Fraser T Smith from his backing band to maximise sales during a two-month promotional campaign in the US. Black executives at urban radio networks in America have advised him that the presence of a white guitarist will hamper his potential for a bigger fanbase. [...] Stacey Anderson, music coordinator at WBLS, an urban music station based in New York, did not agree racial segregation permeated American music. "It doesn't matter who you're playing with as long as your music's good."
You know ... the only thing sillier than the racial segregation in "urban music" is the fact that they deny that there's segregation in "urban music". Certainly, urban stations play Eminem because there's demand for the misogynist homophobic little ... oh, excuse me. I meant to say that there's demand for the "blond rapper who, thanks to his background, is seen by many as a sort of 'honorary' black person". And I suppose that he does make good rap music, whatever that would be. (Sorry. I'm an antique. I like that bizarre thing called "melody" in my music, plus less of the out and out hate and the like. Like I said, I'm an antique.) Anyway, as I said, urban music stations play Eminem, despite the fact that he's white, because there's demand.
Name someone else. Go ahead, I'm waiting .....
Although it is much easier now for black people to cross over into mainstream pop -- in fact, that particular barrier has been pretty much obliterated -- crossing back the other way is not and never will be easy. Minorities will always guard what they think of as "their territory" zealously.
Is it fair? No, probably not. Is it reasonable? Again, probably not.
You know, the sad thing is, my suspicion is that Craig David being seen with a white guitarist in his band wouldn't bother most listeners nearly as much as the programmers think it will. Don't get me wrong, though; it will cost him, purely because the programmers think it will ... or think it should. Because they're afraid of their audience reaction (and because of the wonderful crosspollution between radio station conglomerate owners and concert promoters -- but that's another issue), people won't get to hear him and make their own decision.
I would point out that the color of the band members doesn't matter on radio -- it's not like you can actually see them, now is it? -- but radio programmers would no doubt see that as irrelevant.Posted by iain at November 18, 2002 12:27 PM
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