and steal it. I think what’s been different about the last 15 years is that the mainstream crossed over into Black music as opposed to Black music crossing over into the mainstream. I would make the argument that the thing that we actually identify as pop music today really has its roots and foundation in Black music over the last 15 years or so. When we saw the rise of the boy bands of Backstreet Boys, N'Sync and 98 Degrees it was clear that their producers and handlers were repackaging them in a way that we thought about groups like New Edition 15 years before them. When you think about all the work or production that producers and songwriters like Full Force did in terms of creating a sound for these crossover artists, its clear that what we identify as this pop sound moment is rooted in Black music over the last 20 years.
EBONY: So where do we go from here? Is the issue concerning the state of Black pop even worth debating since things appear to be so cyclical in the pop arena and always shifting or is it still valid to continue examining Black pop?
MAN: I think this is a generation where we’re talking about young folks under 24 who just process music very differently. I'm sitting there with my 13 year-old daughter and she’s listening to a whole range of artists on Pandora. She’s not thinking about this in any racialized way. I think that’s what pop music is supposed to be; a fantasy space where we’re not concerned with all of these issues.
NF: I think Nicki Minaj and Rihanna are both of a tradition of Black popular music and they are also bringing in other influences. Rihanna isn’t bound by the Black American aesthetic. She brings in her Caribbean heritage, rave culture, this new millennial multiracial gathering and different subcultures. Even Nicki is playing with plastic, looking like a doll, and Japanese anime. They’re using different cultural traditions and practices that are not just within a Black music tradition. So I think they are both pushing the boundaries of how we understand Black music and what’s a Black pop star in the 21st century. In that way it will be very interesting to watch what they’re doing to think about how we understand race in the 21st century.
Souleo Enterprises, LLC is the umbrella company that creates, produces and curates media content, events, exhibitions and philanthropic projects by founder, Souleo. Presently Souleo Enterprises, LLC is creator/producer of the adult LGBT, financial literacy and arts programming for the New York Public Library taking place summer 2012 seen here.