Culture, Society and Popular Music; Racism in Music

This is the fourth installment of my Culture, Society and Music blog for my Music and Audio Production degree coursework. This week I will discuss beyond moral panic- racism and music. This blog also includes an accompanying playlist.

Tragically popular music has ever been a medium for racist remarks and thoughts. Not just rap but all genres.

The first song which is racist is a rock classic, the Rolling Stones “Brown Sugar”. The official video for this song is mildly inoffensive as it’s a live performance but the lyrics don’t get more blatant than this:


“gold coast slave ship bound for cotton fields,
sold in a market down in New Orleans.
Scarred old slaver know he’s doin’ all right.
Hear him whip the women just around midnight.

brown sugar
how come you taste so good
brown sugar
just like a young girl should”

Counter a song like that with Sinead O Connor, who discusses the brutality of the police against Black people in England.


“England’s not the mythical land of Madame George and roses
It’s the home of police who kill black boys on mopeds
And I love my baby and that’s why I’m leaving
I don’t want him to be aware that there’s
any such thing as grieving.”


Sinead O Connor wrote an open letter in 2012 about Trayvon Martin, racism, loving ourselves and Hip Hop music. It’s well worth a read.

A modern example of racism in popular music is Miley Cyrus- she is accused of being racist by saying she wants to make music that ‘sounds black”, and that that she likes “hood music”. She annexed black ratchet culture in her VMA performance by having voluptuous, black backup dancers figure as meat for Cyrus’ slapping.


We Can’t Stop example: “To my home girls here with the big butt

Shaking it like we at a strip club” Just look at the video- she wears gold jewlry, gold nails, fake gold teeth and urban clothes.



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