Where Chance the Rapper injects spirituality into hip-hop, Muslim Cool injects hip-hop into spirituality.
26 Feb 2017
Charles Mingus and Kanye West represent an extreme form of the complicated-and-proud-of-it black man, within a society that prefers its black men as uncomplicated and untroubling as possible.
24 Apr 2016
Black music's spiritual aspect may be a given, but two new books, A City Called Heaven and Spirits Rejoice! go deep into explaining how that actually happens.
30 Aug 2015
To say that Billie Holiday's songs remain memorable because we know she lived a hard life does her artistry a most insulting disservice.
12 May 2015
Jeff Chang's cultural history tackles how race has played out across the last 50 years, and counting, of American culture.
01 Mar 2015
The difference between churches of service and activism is seen by the degree to which they hold to the philosophies of black theology, a school of religious thought that emerged in the wake of the racial tumult of the ‘60s.
17 Mar 2014
If Disney's Song of the South is as innocuous as its adherents claim, they need to think long and hard about why it’s out of official circulation.
15 Jul 2013
Is black minstrelsy a celebration of noxious stereotypes or an important part of American culture? Or both?
24 Oct 2012
So expressly "chocolate city", go-go is part art form, part entertainment, and part Washington, D.C. civic totem pole; heading south, bounce is a distinctly and defiantly New Orleansian spin on an established rap genre.
19 Sep 2012
These two books show how knotty the connections between culture, race and music have become, even though the only thing the worlds they explore share in common is that in both cases, the audiences are almost all white.
19 Feb 2012
Nikolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson stood for all that was true and eternal and clear-eyed about adult love and relationships. Romance resounded in every note.
06 Sep 2011
We thought Gil Scott-Heron was bulletproof. He wasn’t. We thought he’d know better. He didn’t. He was human. And I‘m New Here, not his greatest work, is his most human work.
27 Jun 2011
From dusty old 78s placed tenderly on the console to reissue CDs spinning easily on the latest-model boom box, Duke Ellington's music spans generations of technology and memory, as told here by the son of a 90-year-old man who loved the Duke.
23 Feb 2011
How can a kid from the 'hood today measure up to the likes of Duke Ellington? or Hank Aaron? A mythical boy from the 'hood meets these major black American figures through three recent books: 'Duke Ellington's America', 'The Last Hero' and 'Willie Mays'.
13 Jan 2011
Langston Hughes’ proverbial California raisin in the sun exploded to a funky beat. I stared blankly past the familiar storefronts, into a world I could barely grasp. How civil a society was it that my daughter was about to join?
15 Jul 2010
It's an American pop music creation myth: that blues and folk music developed along two distinct tracks, with their own distinct traditions, divided along racial lines. The truth is, of course, far more slippery and complicated.
27 May 2010
If the 'black' in 'post-black' means “the last 40 years or so”, black folks are clearly moving beyond that; but to the extent that 'black' means “having to deal with the same-old same-old when it comes to racial attitudes,” then we ain’t post-nuthin’.
18 Mar 2010
The year 2009 saw no shortage of jumping-off points for wrestling with how black folks regard their visages, how everyone else regards black visages, and how we all negotiate the distance between the two.
14 Jan 2010
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