The kind of music you like (or play)

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In the light of changing dynamics in the terms of reference used in popular culture, perhaps now is as good a time as any to look at the way music is recorded, documented, bought and sold.

When the term “urban” is used to described music and those who create and perform it, it usually evokes images of nightclubs, shebeens and sometimes has undertones of racial profiling in ways that could be regarded as unhelpful. It is understandable that the business needs to have terminology for describing various forms of creative expression, but perhaps there needs to be more negotiation between practitioners from all backgrounds in making these decisions.

The gatekeepers who decide what should be valued the most in music from non Western cultures should also cultivate some humility in their thought processes. Not every musician of African heritage who draws inspiration from the musical traditions of the continent is going to fit snugly into the boundaries of taste set by critics who regard themselves as “World Music” aficionados.

In the days when record shops and radio stations dominated the discourse in the recorded music business, perhaps it made sense to sit in smoke filled rooms and call the shots about the creative impulses of people of diverse heritages, but now we can all seize the bull by the horns and do things on our own terms (if we want to).

Is “urban” music a creation of deejays? Are deejays actually musicians? Obviously it is possible to combine being a musician and a deejay, but somehow it feels like one skill is different to the other, even if they both involve the appreciation and presentation of music.

 

 

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