Korean boyband BTS have expressed "grief and anger" in response to deadly mass shootings in Asian-owned spas in Atlanta, Insider reports. A statement from the band - published in Korean and English - refers to discriminatory experiences that made them feel "powerless". The recent spike in the deliberate targeting of Asian parts of the US population is thought to come from people blaming China for the coronavirus pandemic.

An interesting interview with dr. Stephanie Doktor, music professor, with MJI about John Powell, who liked Black music but was a racist. To summarize it: "Powell was an American composer who initially based much of his music on ragtime, spirituals, minstrel tunes, and jazz in the 1900s and 1910s. But in the early 1920s, he became a politically active white supremacist... He continued to perform his Black-based music at the same time he was collaborating with Marcus Garvey to have Black Americans removed from the nation. Instead of interpreting his pre- and post-war agendas as radically oppositional or his musical and political careers as antithetical to one another, I consider how they are actually imbricated. Doing so helps problematize the structure of modernist concert music. Put differently, Powell was not an outlier but rather a product of American modernism".

Nazi punk and nazi black metal are both present on the biggest streaming services, and Medium observes a similar trend with electronic synthesizer music. Fashwave (a portmanteau of “fascism” and “wave”) or Trumpwave have emerged in recent years with lounge music sounds superimposed by fascist imagery like swastika and Hitler on top of it. Both Fashwave and Trumpwave come up frequently on YouTube, Soundcloud, and Spotify for those willing to look. Interspliced in between electronic beats on YouTube are speeches to segregationist or fascists leaders, as well as straight-up fascist speeches (no hyperlinks to those here).

Black is the first color
February 24, 2021

Adrian Younge: We all have invisible blackness

"America is a slavocracy: it is a nation founded on bigotry, and those principles continue today. People might think racism no longer exists because there is no longer a slave system, but they don’t realise the laws that enabled the slave system still put us in a position where we have to jump over insurmountable handicaps to just become equal” - composer Adrian Younge said to the Guardian, talking about his new album 'The American Negro', and a new podcast – 'Invisible Blackness'. There's an irony in the latter title - “I use the phrase of the show’s title to illustrate that we all have invisible blackness, this sense of ‘otherness’ inside us, because we are all descended from the first human being in Africa".

Country singer Morgan Wallen got pretty much cancelled after using a racial slur (toward a white friend) taking "what was too far of a public step in what had largely been a possibly too narrowly divided space", Medium explained in an essay. "Regarding the first of what should be many reparational steps, Rissi Palmer offers a concise yet definitive proclamation. 'White people lost the privilege to use the n-word the moment that they enslaved and hung Black people. They don’t get to say it. They don’t get to say it for fun or with an ‘a’ or ‘er’ at the end. It’s simple. White people just can’t say it anymore'”.

Dangerous liaisons
February 06, 2021

Morgan Wallen’s sales rise sharply after racial slur

After country star Morgan Wallen was caught on camera using a racial slur, his music was pulled from hundreds of radio stations in the US, his radio play fell 70% and his record contract was suspended. On the other hand, however, sales of his music skyrocketed by 339%, according to Billboard. The day before the story about his use of the n-word broke, he sold 5,000 total units, about 1,000 of which were copies of his recent release 'Dangerous: The Double Album'. As the backlash grew, on the first day of the scandal, he sold 7,000 albums and 22,500 total units, an increase of 339% compared to sales the day before. Breaking down album vs. song sales, Wallen's albums sold a little over 8,000 copies Feb. 3, up 593% from 1,000 on Feb. 2, while his songs sold 14,000 downloads Feb. 3, up 261% from 4,000 on Feb. 2.

US country music star Morgan Wallen has been removed from more than 400 US radio playlists after a video emerged of him saying the n-word to a friend, Variety reports. In the footage, reportedly filmed by a neighbor last weekend, the 27-year-old Nashville star is seen saying goodbye to some friends and using the racial slur. Wallen, who is currently one of the biggest country stars in the US, and had a No. 1 album in the US for the past three weeks, has apologized - "I'm embarrassed and sorry. There are no excuses to use this type of language, ever. I promise to do better".

Vice started a series called Unpaid Royalties about the myriad ways that the music industry exploits Black artists, and what's being done to change them. They started with the three most common types of contracts an artist might sign today, offering a window into how the “bad deal” isn’t an anomaly - it’s by design.

A BBC investigation has found racist songs on major music streaming services like Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, and Deezer. These platforms do not allow such content, however, BBC easily found at least 20 songs with disturbing content. Searching out the music required no specialist skills or effort.

The color of voice
September 28, 2020

Racism in opera - the story of Emmanuel "Onry" Henreid

Black opera singer Emmanuel "Onry" Henreid went viral in June with a video of an impromptu duet with a student Madisen Hallberg performing national anthem - a moment of racial unity during the Black Lives Matter protests. BBC talked to Onry - he described how he was told he wasn't able, physically, to sing opera, and how he is prevented from singing by the police anywhere outside opera houses.

All that race
September 07, 2020

Georgia Anne Muldrow: Jazz IS about race

Fewer than 10 percent of the students who graduate with jazz degrees from American universities are Black, although they make 12,7% of general population, and in 2017 only 1 percent were Black women (over 6% in general population), New York Times reports about the issue of race in music, jazz in particular. It says that "over the past 50 years, the music has become entrenched in academic institutions. As a result, it’s often inaccessible to, and disconnected from, many of the very people who created it: young Black Americans". Georgia Anne Muldrow, a student in the jazz program at New York's New School, goes deeper with her insight about the very character of jazz taught in schools: "At the center of the teaching would always be the idea that jazz is not about race. And it absolutely is. It was absolutely about where people weren’t allowed to go, which made them travel in their music".

Level talked to four women from different parts of American culture to discuss how hip-hop should change its attitude and behaviour toward women. "A lot of these C-suites and the music industry needs to be torn down and rebuilt with the younger people and people who are not complicit in decades of rape culture and abuse" - music producer Drew Dixon said. Journalist Clarissa Brooks is hopeful"I do feel like things are getting better, though, because people are making art for themselves and their communities. People aren’t interested in celebrity in the same way". Author Danyel Smith put it simply: "Good people have to do good things and good work".

Entrenched in tradition, the classic music industry has allowed its outdated systems to endure, largely unchallenged; Black musicians still make up less than two percent of the orchestral members in the US - Grammy.com reports about the important issue. One Instagram account, Orchestra Is Racist, lies at the epicenter of the movement to end racism in classics, with musicians of color coming forward to share their stories of racial injustice. The page provides a platform for musicians of color to share their stories of experienced racism in classical music, from education to orchestral hiring processes to dealings with arts' administration.

Rina Sawayama

"If we are looking at the charts as a barometer for nationwide popularity, non-English-language music rarely features... Yes, Despacito reached No 1 here, but it was only after Justin Bieber appeared on it" - the Guardian analyzes UK music taste. First of all, the British are the third least likely nation in Europe to speak a foreign language. That's not all, people of color like Samm Henshaw, and women that don't fit the norm (white complexion) like Rina Sawayama, won't have the same success as their white counterparts. Guardian argues it's due to "so much systemic hostility, xenophobia and outright racism in this sector".

Black is the color of my true identity
July 10, 2020

Tom Morello: Racism is as American as apple pie and baseball

Tom Morello of Rage Against The Machine has spoken of his experiences with racism and encounters with the KKK - “In Los Angeles, dozens of times, I was pulled over when driving, going on official band business but in my old Chevy Astro van when I was driving through Beverly Hills. ‘Why is there a thirty-something-year-old black man in this neighbourhood?’", Radio X reports. While he was growing up, in Libertyville in Illinois, he was "the only black person. Once, there was a noose in my family\s garage, there was the occasional burned cross on the lawn", and then, “I was in a popular band that had songs that were predominantly played on white, rock-oriented stations, the way I speak is not typically urban vernacular, and there’s a large part of my fan base that freaks the fuck out when I say that I’m black".

“Pop music tends to smuggle in a lot of contraband lyrically. Words that would cause outrage if spoken often get a pass or go unnoticed when sung" - Record producer Ian Brennan told Rolling Stone about racially violent songs. He pointed out 'Brown Sugar' by The Rolling Stones - "almost undoubtedly, the majority of their audience would claim to be ‘liberal’ and ‘not racist,’ but 60,000 people singing along to those words is not an entirely innocent act. That it is tolerated or dismissed is yet another smaller, but nonetheless meaningful example of systemic racism”. Brennan, who’s written several books about racism and inequity, says The Rolling Stones’ well-known track glorifies slavery, rape, torture and pedophilia.

Serj Tankian / Axl Rose

There are numerous examples of metal bands supporting #BlackLivesMatter and the fight for good in general: Black Sabbath have printed T-shirts altering the logo from their 'Master of Reality' album to read Black Lives Matter; Serj Tankian of System of a Down took a very clear stand: “Coordinate online and block every street everywhere and force the regime to resign. The time has come. Your time has come @realdonaldtrump”; Guns N’ Roses gave support to BLM on Instagram and Axl Rose unequivocally took a side against Donald Trump. But, there are black sheep: John Dolmayan, System of a Down’s drummer, used Instagram to offer his support for Trump’s claim to be the greatest friend to minorities America has ever had; Sandra Araya, the wife of Slayer’s Tom Araya, has been posting racist memes to Instagram. Guardian reports on the clearly dividing issue.

The past stops, and the future starts here
June 01, 2020

Jay-Z: Justice for George Floyd is a first step for healing America

Jay-Z has called on Attorney General Keith Ellison to prosecute those responsible for the killing of George Floyd to the “fullest extent of the law”, after reaching out directly to Minnesota Governor Tim Walz to talk about the state’s handling of the crime. Jay-Z wrote Justice for Floyd is “just a first step” for healing the country, adding - “I am more determined to fight for justice than any fight my would-be oppressors may have”.

Rapper Killer Mike made an impassioned plea to residents of Atlanta asking them to not vandalize their city while also expressing rage over the murder of George Floyd. “We have to be better than burning down our own homes because if we lose Atlanta, what else we got?” - Killer Mike asked. “It is your duty to not burn your own house down for anger with an enemy. It is your duty to fortify your own house, so that you may be a house of refuge in times of organization. And now is the time to plot, plan, strategize, organize, and mobilize”. He condemned the murder of Floyd, calling for a better system - "we don’t want to see targets burning, we want to see the system that sets up systemic racism, burn to the ground”. Bon Iver's Justin Vernon has shared a similar sentiment: "A police state cannot fix what a police state has broken. Only equal freedom and protection of all citizens can begin to reset the scales of justice”.

Numerous musicians - including Justin Bieber, Ice-T, Ice Cube, Common, Ariana Grande, Snoop Dogg, Madonna - have spoken out after a video of yet another incident of the US police brutality against the American black community surfaced on social media. Family attorney George Floyd was arrested on Monday (May 25) on suspicion of forgery. In the viral clip, Floyd was unarmed and cried out that he couldn't breathe as an officer kneeled on his neck. He later died at the hospital.

Atlanta country band Confederate Railroad were supposed to perform at the Du Quoin State Fair in Illinois, as part of “90s Country ReLoaded Day,” but after people started to question their name they were removed from the lineup, Brooklyn Vegan reports. Du Quoin State Fair manager Josh Gross said - "While every artist has a right to […]

Cave likes Morrissey's music, doesn't like his political views, but he should still have the right to express those. Just separate the two, in order not to ruin the music. "He has written a vast and extraordinary catalogue... original and distinctive works of unparalleled beauty", Nick Cave writes in a new blog post at The […]

"In the music industry, there’s still segregation. There used to be the black division, race records. Programmers, especially at Pop radio, has this imagery of what beauty looks like. They wanted that imagery to be the same that’s singing those records", Matthew Knowles, Beyoncé father said while on SiriusXM's The Clay Cane Show. The former manager […]