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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.

Hip-hop and Ferguson: Black Rage, Don’t Shoot, Be Free

By Stephanie Shonekan

In recent years, there has been a growing fear among some black music scholars, critics, practitioners, and partakers that its power as a significant expressive outlet for the community has been eroded. Commercialization, globalization, capitalism, media mania, and a voracious music industry have resulted in a trend that glorifies “booties,” “bling,” “beef,” and “Benjamins.”

From its roots in West Africa, art and music have always been an integral part of black life. Over time, wherever the Diaspora spread, the music remained functional, responding to the needs of the people to tell stories, recite histories, complement worship, aid work and labor, enhance celebration, and urge action against the evolving manifestations of oppression and racism.

African American artists like Mahalia Jackson, Nina Simone, Miles Davis, James Brown, and Marvin Gaye created compelling beautiful music that commented on the experience of blackness in a tense racialized environment. From the late 1970s and into the 1990s hip hop artists like Afrika Bambaataa, Grandmaster Flash, Public Enemy, Eric B and Rakim, NWA, Black Star, and Dead Prez continued the tradition. (more…)

Lupita: One Small Step for Dark Girls?

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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