Bloc Party’s Kele Okereke Shares Essay On Black British Musical Identity

By James Rettig / June 19, 2014 - 1:08 pm

Bloc Party frontman Kele Okereke wrote a great article for Noisey looking at the lack of a Black British musical identity. “The question of a cohesive Black British musical identity is more than just a question of sales and demographics, it’s an institutional problem. The UK has an issue with racism that we are unwilling to address — it is reflected in negative attitudes towards Black British music, but also towards Black British culture in general,” Okereke writes.

Later, he calls out the appropriation of Black culture in pop music: “This is the narrative that accompanies every popular black art form; it is a cool little underground thing until some major corporation and/or a white audience buys into it. From Miley’s recent approbation of the Dirty South dance move twerking to Sam Smith’s note-for-note pastiche of Atlanta soul. What is the message here? That black culture can only be relevant when it is declawed and can appeal to the masses? I know its not fashionable to talk about black music in terms of race nowadays and there will be many people that think with our shared multi racial heritage that the idea of a separate Black British musical identity itself is an antiquated idea. But every time I turn on MTV every white pop star I see seems to be somehow indebted to black culture from Justin Bieber to Iggy Azalea, even Disclosure.” Read the full article here.

[Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty.]