African American Cultural Production In The Music Industry between 1960 and 2000 Essay Example
African American Cultural Production In The Music Industry between 1960 and 2000 Essay Example

African American Cultural Production In The Music Industry between 1960 and 2000 Essay Example

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  • Pages: 6 (1510 words)
  • Published: April 3, 2022
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How did African American cultural production in the music industry changed between 1960 and 2000? Precisely, individuals from every corner of the world are linked through the power of music. When it comes to cultural production of music, the inspiration, trending events and life experiences play an extremely important role. African American artistic creativity in the music industry has long been at the front position of American culture (Conyers, 2001). Black Americans have made a considerable impact on the nation’s musical history. Since its origination, African American music has been representing different kinds of music genres, cultural beliefs and practices greatly created by African Americans. It is important to note that most African American artists started developing music in the course of slavery that described the lives of African Americans preceding to the American Civil War (Suisman, 2009). Slaves resis


ted discrimination and segregation in part by developing new expressive musical forms out of African traditions. In fact, black American slaves created blues, rap, jazz genres, which exerted an absolute influence on the development of music industry in the United States.

The early music industry was established largely on the innovation and creativity of black artists and composers. These artists and composers developed virtually every unique American musical genre and deeply prejudiced the advancement of popular culture and music. The influence of African American music acquired great influence during the twentieth century. In early 1950s, African American musicians created musical genres such as Blues and Rhythm. Later, as soul performers of Jazz emerged in 1960s, numerous African American musicians developed a musical genre of Jazz-rock union. However, between 1970 and 1980, African artists created hip hop, whic

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later introduced the disco-imparted dance style called house music in mid-1980s (Gray, 2005). At the beginning of 1990s, hip hop had acquired substantial mainstream popularity in the United States and across the world. Basically, as twenty first century approached, African Americans across the United States and the world persisted to develop advanced hip hop music, generating an innovative culture in the music industry. Suisman (2009) contends that contemporary music is largely influenced by early and current African-American music genres. The purpose of this specific paper is to examine the change of African American cultural production in the music industry between 1960 and 2000.

For large part of American history, the appreciated rights of Intellectual Property in the music industry avoided African American artists working in a social system of racial discrimination. In other words, the early music industry was based on segregation, exclusion, promotion of stereotypes and discrimination. From its foundation, racial discrimination made the early music industry to avoid African American artists from recording music(Ramsey, 2003). In fact, between 1900 and 1950, there was little prospect for African American musicians to record music due to the spread of racial discrimination. However, in mid-twentieth century, African American performers gradually surpassed their European-American opponents in composing music, seemingly because they were better at describing the basic representations of themselves(Conyers, 2001). Established in 1959 by former music composer Berry Gordy, Michigan Motown Records would become the first and thriving African-owned record brand in history. This music record brand served not only as a recording studio but also as key headquarters of African American musicians. Jazz as a music genre became much more self-intentional an art music intended for

listening instead of dancing. Jazz and Blues came to be the unique forms of African American cultural manifestation that challenges the popular faith that in the music industry there are no truly original ideas. In this case, by the end of 1960s, Africans were part of the trending musicians, specifically through the guitar artistic works of Jimi Hendrix. Jimi became the first guitarist to use audio response in developing an innovative guitar solo sound. This innovative music genre revolutionized African-American music in the late 1960s and early 1970s(Suisman, 2009).

The 1970s era was a great decade for African American musicians as hip hop music genre began. Album and guitar oriented sounds continued its popularity, while innovative musicians helped turn it to quite interesting music. These genres progressed from black musicians developing soul music with an exciting melody. In other words, music at this moment was incorporated into popular music accomplishing mainstream popularity. Hip hop music was invented by spoken-word artists such as Melvin Van Peebles, Gil Scott-Heron and The Last Poets. According to Gray(2005), hip hop music represented the expression of a community and it was meant for usage by the community. Started at mass parties, hip hop music developed as a key feature of a large culture including African American, with progressive and rebellious origins. Masters of Ceremonies and DJs started introducing tracks to the dancing audience from diverse communities but with same experiences. During big concerts, DJs could repeat and separate the hitting breaks, creating a continuous, extremely danceable hits, which Masters of Ceremonies could rap over, through rhymes and later persistent lyrics. This genre became popular in every street as everyone was talking

about rapping, thus becoming a multicultural movement in young African American, steered by musicians such as Run-MDC and Kurtis Blow(Ramsey, 2003).

From its start in the mid-1970s and all through 1980s, hip hop music was a self-conscious unit within the community that developed it. In the 1980s, the African American cultural production in the music industry had radically changed the creative process of musicians and the diversity of available music genres. It is at this moment when Michael Jackson’s music fascinated to all parts of society, changing popular music and bonding genders, races and ages from diverse cultural backgrounds. Michael Jackson music resulted to rise of African solo musicians, such as Tina Turner, Janet Jackson, Lionel Richie, and Whitney Houston (Ramsey, 2003). However, Jackson’s career had been followed by a boundless stream of controversy in the late twentieth century. In 1988, black American heavy metal band accomplished mainstream prosperity with their music becoming one of the most recognized band. The band’s music comprised lyrics that rebelled racial discrimination and Eurocentrism in the United States. Notably, the production of dance and pop-soul of this period motivated numerous African American artists by the end of 1980s such as Ben Harper, Body Count and Lenny Kravitz, when hip hop spread across the country(Gray, 2005).

To some African Americans, white listeners seemed to be pursuing for excitements from racially inspired illusions. Nevertheless, in the course of 1980s and 1990s, the fame of white rappers illustrated that more than race was at production. Rapping started as a simple music and its commercialization did not affect it from its foundation. Through collaboration of Latino, Black, Hispanic and Spanish rappers, it suggested that the

incorporation of rap was occurring at all levels. In early 1990s, black American women rappers emerged addressing national politics, black-on-black violence and drug abuse. Rap became popular by virtue of typical media and listeners, despite the fact that fresher hits remained undiscovered and community-based. Modern R&B, as a result of disco version of soul music came to be known in the course of 1990s era(Suisman, 2009). Still, the mutual coexistence between urban culture and traditional black culture in the African American community at this period remained unanswered. The Neo Soul Movement of the 1990s seemed back on more advanced soul inspirations and was made popular in the end of twentieth century. According to Conyers(2001), the music industry appreciated African American music in all terms as more artists emerged. Rap scenes were developing all over the country with some of the African American artists imitating the rap culture of white rappers. The genre perseveres to flourish as a living art in the music industry, constantly leaving behind its commercialized indication.


From viciousearly stages, African Americans through music industry endured to show their ability in producing innovative music and created a unique culture reflecting that process. Production of music has played a crucial role in African American communities for many years. The social impact of African American artists have been felt both within the United States and across the world. By examining the change of African American cultural production in the music industry between 1960 and 2000, it is notable that this evolution has been largely been influenced by what came before. Since nineteenth century, African American music served the social purpose of rebelling against slavery and racial

discrimination. Music as a culture and industry moves forward in the United States and across the world. African Americans continue to set trends and break barriers in the music industry, particularly in Jazz, blues, rap and pop music. Generally, further change is expected in the coming days as African Americans persevere to develop new and innovative music, based on the long tradition of African American culture.


  1. Conyers, J. L. (2001). African American jazz and rap: Social and philosophical examinations of
    black expressive behavior. Jefferson, NC u.a.: McFarland.
  2. Gray, H. (2005). Cultural moves: African Americans and the politics of representation.
    Berkeley: University of California Press.
  3. Ramsey, J. G. P. (2003). Race Music: Black Cultures from Bebop to Hip-Hop. Berkeley:
    University of California Press.
  4. Suisman, D. (2009). Selling sounds: The commercial revolution in American music. Cambridge,
    Mass: Harvard University Press.
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