Art, Music, & Pop Culture

The role of artists in society has always been important. Artists raise awareness about social issues and are often the register of the times. They can reinforce the status quo or they can serve as a catalyst for change. Popular Culture often illuminates where we are all are as a people and a species. We invite critical essays and thinking on art of all types today in the US and abroad.

Iggy Azalea and her “Race” to the Top of the Charts

By T.S. Leonard

Editor’s note: Since the second half of the twentieth century, music critics and scholars have talked about the “whitening of black music.”  This phenomenon is ever present on the airwaves and on music shows as African American musicians are receding to the background of mainstream entertainment, taking a backseat to the new generation of white R&B, pop, and hip hop artists.  Here, T.S. Leonard tackles the complex issue of race and immigration in US popular music by taking on the artist that has emerged at the top of the charts in 2014, Australian rapper Iggy Azalea.

Fans and critics will probably be shocked that after all the speculation and anticipation Iggy Azalea did not walk away with a single Moonman at last night’s MTV VMA Awards show. If you were anywhere near a radio this summer there is no doubt that the mere word “fancy” calls to mind the icy, incessant, staccato synths of Iggy’s breakout hit. Iggy Azalea was everywhere, and most notably at numbers one and two on the Billboard Hot 100, a major feat for a debut artist previously only claimed by the Beatles.

“Fancy” was the de facto Song of the Summer, an ambiguously ranked yet coveted claim for the pop industry. Azalea got everyone’s attention with many wondering “where on earth did she come from?” Her whiteness and her Australian nationality quickly became requisite identifiers of this 24-year old hip-hop artist who exploded on to the American music scene earlier this year. (more…)

Lupita: One Small Step for Dark Girls?


By Stephanie Shonekan, Contributing Editor, Art, Music & Pop Culture In the week of April 21, 2014 People Magazine announced their long anticipated choice of “Most Beautiful Woman” Lupita Nyongo. It was not unexpected because the Kenyan actress had become … Continue reading

Pratibha Parmar Brings Alice Walker’s Art to Life

Repost from Women in the World. Samina Ali interviews Pratibha Parmar, who most recently directed Alice Walker: Beauty in Truth, celebrating the first African-American woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. Parmar speaks about retelling Walker’s words. Read more at … Continue reading

New Africa Center Launches in Style

The New Africa Center, formerly known as the Museum for African Art, threw itself a grand launch party last Thursday in Harlem.  The new institution will continue to focus on art, but also on the pressing issues and opportunities of … Continue reading