Around the world, music is a common thing for all individuals around the world. We all like music in one way or another, whether it was from when we listened to it growing up as a child or even just an hour ago.
However, many individuals believe that with the rise of technology around the world, the ability to create music has grown and also has the ability to steal others musicians works, this becoming a trivial topic and a large argument for the case of copy right. Jones states that “Technology, particularly recording technology, has for more than a century threatened the copyrights of composers, publishers and performers. Users armed with this technology have been given the means to record, copy and distribute the works of others.”. (Jones 2009) This topic is difficult as some believe that music should stick to its roots, but with this, will it only fall behind and be left like many other things in the past when developed?
However, much like movies and television shows, music is something that defines us as people and the way we act in life. Those who follow common genres together are more likely to enjoy spending time with each other as they have something in common. Genres of music is something that has developed since its creation, putting a label on the ‘type’ of music it is and where it has originated from. Examples may be country, pop, jazz, heavy metal, reggae, hip hop, rap, grunge –I could literally go on for hours just talking about the different genres of music!
But a key point about music that influences it, is where it is from. What culture has influenced this music? Is it in a different countries’ language? And more importantly, has it become a case of cultural appropriation? Cultural appropriation is explained to be “the power dynamic in which members of a dominant culture take elements from a culture of people who have been systematically oppressed by that dominant group” (Johnson, 2015) or simply, when someone adopts aspects of a culture that is not their own. This is a common topic that comes up in the music industry, people of not that origin taking another culture and profiting from something that is not their own.
One of the most recent examples is Ariana Grande’s recent hit ‘7 Rings’.
Not only does Grande take original songs in her very first verse fir her own, the song “Favourite Things” in the Sound of Music. But the song itself is a rap and R&B song, inspired by – or even taking – from black artist. After the single was released, two rappers, Princess Nokia and Soulja Boy, posted videos accusing Grande of stealing their flows. Artist 2 Chainz suggested the music video ripped off the pink trap house he set up as a promotional effort in Atlanta. Grande since then, has been under critical review for cultural appropriation and extreme backlash, yet still her song reached number 1 and broken billboard charts. So whilst a possible case of cultural appropriation have occurred, did she really face repercussion from this?
Overall, music is something that depends heavily on taste, yet the morals of the artist can influence the music created, those unaware of possible repercussions in the industry will certainly face the consequences if they appropriate someone else’s culture.
How about you? What’s your opinion on artists taking influence from other cultures in their own songs? Where do you stand?
Till next time,
Jones R. 2009;23(1/2):109-122. Technology and the cultural appropriation of music. International Review of Law, Computers & Technology.
Viswalingam, J. (2019). Ariana Grande’s Seven Rings: Why Cultural Appropriation Is A Sort Of A Big Deal. [online] Feminism In India. Available at: https://feminisminindia.com/2019/03/05/ariana-grande-seven-rings-cultural-appropriation/
Johnson, M. (2019). What’s Wrong with Cultural Appropriation? These 9 Answers Reveal Its Harm. [online] Everyday Feminism. Available at: https://everydayfeminism.com/2015/06/cultural-appropriation-wrong/