Influences on African American Pop Music
Pop is a generic term for a specific genre of music that emerged in the early 1950s in the United Kingdom and the United States. The terms pop music and popular music are frequently used interchangeably, but the former properly refers to any music that has reached a level of popularity that allows it to be sold commercially, while the latter describes a style of music which has achieved some degree of popularity. From the point of view of the music industry, popular refers to those types of music which enjoy the highest sales figures, but this does not mean that all styles can be classified as pop. This is because, on the whole pop music has tended to cater for the younger generation who have grown up listening to and appreciating it.
Pop artists from different countries and backgrounds have been able to influence the evolution of pop music over the last few decades. Some of the most popular names in pop music include the Bangles (Britain), the Brains (led by Paul McCartneys) and the Spice Kids (which became known as Team Rock). These artists have popularized certain aspects of pop music through their music, including memorable tunes and songs, memorable music videos and, to a lesser extent, costume and makeup styles. While some of these bands enjoyed crossover success, with hits that they themselves had contributed to, others have achieved mainstream success, only to see their music become identified as pop music in countries outside of their own.
One of the pioneers of the so-called ’emo’ or ‘hippie’ movement was the artist Bob Dylan, who released three major albums that were hugely successful, including Rubber Room and Take It Easy. However, when he released The Freewheelin’, which was heavily influenced by African American rhythm and blues, it was also considered to be an attempt to attract white audiences. His subsequent albums, such as Dylan’s masterpiece Highway To Hell and Blood On The Edge attracted large amounts of white audiences, but this did not stop his music from becoming highly influential and popular with many African Americans.
African American pop music performers such as Luther Vandross, Aretha Franklin, Cee-Lo, Aretha Franklin, and many others, helped to popularize the sounds of the new age. In fact, the 1990s witnessed a resurgence in interest in African American popular culture and new songs by such acts as Luther Vandross, Cee-Lo, Elvis, and many others helped to create a more diverse image for African American consumers. Many critics argue that the popularity of the early American pop music was influenced by the rise of the rap industry. Rapping, which is often equated with black rap music, became extremely popular amongst African Americans during the 1980s and was widely accepted as being ‘Americanized’ and adopting a more ‘western’ style of music. This was seen in both rap and folk music, with artists such as Public Enemy and Akon adopting similar styles.
Another influence on the growth of the African American pop music movement was the coming of crack cocaine. The cocaine hit the streets of urban America at the same time that the country’s music scene was growing in popularity. Many African Americans found themselves drawn to the rapping sound of the early rap songs and the beats were often compared to the sounds of crack cocaine. Crack cocaine and its associated stigma soon faded from the scene, but the drug itself has remained popular with many African Americans. This has led to an increase in use of the drug amongst the African American population, particularly in metropolitan areas.
African American pop music videos have also had an impact on the way that black artists are perceived by the general public. In the 1980s, a number of well-known African American artists like Oprah Winfrey, Chaka Khan, and groups like the Fugees used music videos to reach a larger audience. This helped to increase their commercial value and gave them more exposure. However, some of these artists, such as the band Boyz II Men, chose to express their political views in their music videos.