By black, I do not mean black people, but black music. Black rhythms. Black moves. Black American music was over-represented at the Grammys last night. But is this not a reflection of the state of global popular music at present? The way the world is dominated by white American films, it's now dominated by black American music, which is not only exported but also produced abroad. The day before the splashy music event, I learned that China has banned hiphop artists from TV shows. The government there fears its rising popularity will leave a lasting mark on a whole generation. The next day, I was in a bar, Fort St. George, listening to Vietnamese hiphop (one rapper, Trời Cho, was all about that low-tech boom), while one of the biggest tunes of 2018, "Despacito"—a Spanish-language hiphop/Afro-Latin concoction whose remix features the Elvis Presley of our day, Justin Bieber (though the latter is far blacker than the former)—was performed at the Grammys.
The event was, of course, attended by the current queen and king of global pop music, Beyoncé and Jay-Z: an R&B singer and rapper. This hiphop king had earlier that day gotten into a tiff with the President of the United States about racism, black Americans, and black employment. My point is that black American music, in the form of hiphop, not only dominates American pop but is influencing sounds from Latin America to East Asia.
Today, local music and restaurant entrepreneur Dave Meinert accepted this black dominance but bemoaned the death of white rock and alternative music at the Grammys.
He wrote on his Facebook account:
So according to the Recording Academy/GRAMMYs Rock and Alternative are dead? (with all props to Janelle Monae, Kendrick, Kesha, Pink, Bruno Mars who were awesome). No tribute to Chris Cornell, AC/DC? WTF. No TV time for Best Rock Album, Best Alternative, etc? But time for Subway Karaoke? Not feeling that at all.Meaning: He appreciates the black celebration part of the event, but how could it totally ignore white rock and alternative music?
It's possible that rock and indie rock are leaving the mainstream. Indeed, the last big name to emerge from Seattle was a rapper, Macklemore. And it's highly likely that our city's next big thing will also be a rapper. The world has gone black. The Brits are heavily re-exporting rappers and R&B singers to the States. And so the white Brit is in a curious position in 21st century entertainment. If he/she wants to make it at the box office and also onto the Billboard 100, they will have to master American white English and American black English vocals.