Music is a global medium where influence from cultures and countries can be significant to portray in an artist music. In Global Music there is a fine line between appreciation and appropriation. Cultural appropriation is negative when the artist fails to understand the culture as a whole, taking parts from it ‘that suit them’ in order to be more popular or interesting. Cultural appreciation is when an artist appreciates and accepts every aspect of the culture.
Grime is emerging genre that began in the early 2000s, it is inspiring mostly by UK garage and jungle, rap, dance hall, ragga and hip hop. On one hand this amalgamation of genre can be considered ‘appropriation,’ on the other hand its subject matter and context leads it to be deemed appreciation. Grime as a genre often features lyrics surrounding ‘road culture,’ which is typically about gangs, killing and other criminal behaviour. Similar to its US counterpart, grime is “a product of its specific environment and, as such, as a form of cultural expression underpinned by the same systemic and structural problems of inequality” (Adams pg 445 2019). This means that the subjects that surround this genre of music are reflections of the rappers experience in their lives. Enter Slowthai, Britains newest emerging artist, who combines elements of grime, hip-hop and even at times punk, to discuss the current sociopolitical climate of Britain during this current ‘Brexit’ period. Much like NWA’s use of hip-hop to discuss racial inequality in America, Slowthai uses his music to combat the imperialist institution and even the royals themselves. This mutual fighting of the oppressive system is what makes the grime genre respected and appreciated by its influencers.
In the video by Amandla Stenberg she explains ” Appropriation occurs when the appropriator is not aware of the deep significance of the culture that they’re partaking in”. An example from Stenberg’s video was Pop artist Miley Cyrus. In 2013, Miley Cyrus emerged with her new image and album Bangerz where she had delved into the genre of Hip Hop. Throughout that year, many videos were surfacing of Miley Cyrus twerking. In an article written by Jagger Blaec she states, “Cyrus was more than happy to wear her hair in cornrows, pop a gold grill into her mouth as she promoted the beat-heavy album Bangerz, and objectify black women as props in her first video We can’t stop.” Following this were many people calling out Cyrus for “appropriating black culture and mocking the bodies of black women everywhere.” Fast forward to 2017 during an interview for her new music where Miley Cyrus was entering a new genre. She stated that Hip Hop wasn’t her thing anymore and therefore was disassociating herself. This lead to even more backlash with people commenting that Cyrus had used the culture when it was convenient to her.
When it comes to appropriation and appreciation, it’s a very fine line that many people, especially celebrities, need to be very aware and respectful of.
Adams, R 2019 “Home sweet home, that’s where I come from, where I got my knowledge of the road and the flow from”: Grime music as an expression of identity in postcolonial London., Popular Music and Society, viewed 24th August 2019, p. 445
Blaec, J 2017, ‘Miley Cyrus’ Image Makeover Shows Why Black People Fight For Their Culture,’ Medium, viewed 24th August 2019, <https://medium.com/the-establishment/miley-cyrus-image-makeover-shows-why-black-people-fight-for-their-culture-ada67f9749b5>
Monroe, J 2019, ‘Nothing Great about Britain,’ Pitchfork, viewed 24th August 2019, <https://pitchfork.com/reviews/albums/slowthai-nothing-great-about-britain/>