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Paper Magazine Calls Out Nick Jonas For Cultural Appropriation

Nick Jonas is growing up, and to help his image catch-up he's recently done a few new and very surprising collaborations that just don't feel quite right. Dropping a new track yesterday on BBC Radio 1 Xtra with UK grime star Stormzy and premiering a video with Bay Area rapper Sage the Gemini today, it seems like Jonas is looking to beef up his public persona by slowly inching into genres with political roots that extend much deeper than your average pop hit. Guess Demi Lovato didn't cut it. However, it begs the question of where the smallest JoBro got all this sudden street cred from and whether it's all a mere ploy to capitalize on cool -- an easy assumption as this could very well be Nick's attempt to pull a "Justin" in an attempt to distance himself from his cutesy boy band past.

Sure, mainstream musicians have been co-opting traditionally black genres for eons (rock n' roll, hello?), but there's something extra unsettling about Jonas's timing and the particular genres he's chosen to engage -- mostly because it feels tone deaf during this pivotal moment in American history. We're currently embroiled in one of the biggest racial conversations this country's ever seen, a discussion that Jonas, like many other pop stars, have been completely absent from -- once again, most likely for PR-related reasons. But what exactly gives him the right to co-opt genres defined by their political roots to further his own image?

Then again, for a guy who racked up almost 10 million views on his gospel version of "Jealous" and still has yet to credit the singers who ostensibly give the video its oomph, maybe this isn't all that surprising.

Because while it's all well and good to be inspired and collaborate with these artists, one has to contemplate the timing of these partnerships and what they mean for Jonas himself. The problem comes in when you take into consideration that both Sage and Stormzy come from traditions that are innately political in their leanings, charged by the struggle of underrepresented black artists who span the Golden Gate Bridge to London's East End. The mere fact that Jonas could be capitalizing on these messages as a young, white and incredibly famous pop star in an attempt to edge-up his image seems a little icky to say the least.

After all, Sage the Gemini's music has its roots inthe Bay Area's hyphy scene, which emerged as a way of reasserting indie hip-hop in the public and cultural spaces at a time when they were being squeezed out. Grime's origins are also similar, as it was an aggressive, disillusioned take on UK garage meant to express the frustrations of poor, underrepresented black men when o.g. garage was on mainstream charts.

Using obliquely anti-commercial genres to spice up your public image is messed up, not to mention the fact that hyphy and grime are also fueled by undercurrents that exalts resisting the police and reclaiming public spaces. So then how did a good boy from Jersey find his way to Stormzy's acidic spit and Sage's fatalistic repetition? Only Island Records's marketing department will know.

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by Anonymousreply 20May 23, 2015 8:56 PM

They should start with Iggy Azakea and that god awful Meghan Trainor. At least the Jonas brothers are 1/4 black!

by Anonymousreply 1May 22, 2015 9:24 PM

This is such a non-issue. Wow, of all the things in the world to complain about, this? Really?

I'm half black. I'm assuming the person who wrote this article, and people who support it would look down on me and my family.

Music is music. If he's making the music he likes, who the fuck cares? Why should skin color matter in music in this day and age?

by Anonymousreply 2May 23, 2015 1:28 PM

Bullshit. The foundation of all pop music has always been black culture. White people are hopelessly uncool unless they can successfully emulate the black soul, the black sensibility, which is inherently sensual and charismatic. Why do you think Taylor Swift now makes videos where she is lampooning her own lack of coolness?

by Anonymousreply 3May 23, 2015 1:32 PM

[quote]Sure, mainstream musicians have been co-opting traditionally black genres for eons (rock n' roll, hello?), but there's something extra unsettling about Jonas's timing and the particular genres he's chosen to engage -- mostly because it feels tone deaf during this pivotal moment in American history.

That's an excellent point - the 1960s, when bands like the Rolling Stones were "appropriating" African-American music, were a very placid time in African-American history after all.

by Anonymousreply 4May 23, 2015 1:40 PM

quote[not to mention the fact that hyphy and grime are also fueled by undercurrents that exalts resisting the police and reclaiming public spaces

Yeah. Not to mention that.

by Anonymousreply 5May 23, 2015 1:42 PM

This writer is a young chink with a racist Twitter account. Fuck her.

Oh, and it's black, not African-American. Stop with that PC garbage.

by Anonymousreply 6May 23, 2015 1:42 PM

After all this talk about how political Sage the Gemini is, the screenshot of his video right below couldn't be funnier.

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by Anonymousreply 7May 23, 2015 1:48 PM

[quote]The foundation of all pop music has always been black culture.

Uh, no.

by Anonymousreply 8May 23, 2015 1:51 PM

"Cultural appropriation" is the dumbest trendy concept, ever. It's idiotic. We don't have human zoos, anymore, therefore, when aspects of a culture are shared some people may embrace them. That's called "art".

I purposefully defy this idiocy and rub it in people's faces. If I want to wear Lederhosen, I'm damned well going to wear Lederhosen.

by Anonymousreply 9May 23, 2015 1:56 PM

Yes! Down with Cultural Appropriation! We must segregate EVERYTHING!

No more black opera singers. No blacks in fairy tale movies.

by Anonymousreply 10May 23, 2015 1:58 PM

R9, seriously, I wear predominately German and Austrian made clothing- Geiger, Geiswein, etc. Nobody has accused me of Cultural Appropriation because a dress like a Hummel figurine. The whole argument is silly.

by Anonymousreply 11May 23, 2015 2:02 PM

Cultural appropriation?

I am outraged.

by Anonymousreply 12May 23, 2015 2:21 PM

The Paper has as its present cover, "Kanye West, The American Dream".

Does anyone take the shit this rag says seriously, if they pay that asshole any attention whatsoever?

BWAHAHAHAHA...

by Anonymousreply 13May 23, 2015 6:49 PM

R6 = piece of shit.

R13 = about 40 years too old for Paper Magazine.

by Anonymousreply 14May 23, 2015 7:30 PM

They leave out the European influence on certain types of music. While those influences were certainly forced upon Africans brought to the Americas as slaves, they didn't have a choice in coming into contact with it, it doesn't change the fact that many of these African American styles incorporate elements of European culture as well. Gospel is influenced by European church music, there is European influence in rock and pop, particularly Celtic I think. They weren't invented in a vacuum, they come from the combination of styles. Which is basically how it's happened forever.

by Anonymousreply 15May 23, 2015 7:47 PM

The writer is East Asian. Her twitter profile is below.

East Asians are bandwagoners. They see the language today is to attack white people led by black Americans. It plays well into East Asians' long condescension toward people who are not East Asian. Remember Chinese believed they were the center of the world and surrounded by smaller, inferior lands.

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by Anonymousreply 16May 23, 2015 7:49 PM

R15, for that matter, tap dancing is just as influenced by the large migration of Europeans affected by the potato famine. Most of these countries had a tradition of clogging which greatly influenced the development of tap.

by Anonymousreply 17May 23, 2015 8:10 PM

This really is so good I can listen to it for hours on end!

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by Anonymousreply 18May 23, 2015 8:11 PM

Isn't this the magazine that put Kim Kardashian's hideous nude pictures on their cover?

by Anonymousreply 19May 23, 2015 8:46 PM

I'm becoming my parents more every day.

by Anonymousreply 20May 23, 2015 8:56 PM
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