One frequently hears questions such as: Why do different races generally listen to specific genres of music? Why do music genres have such a colour divide? Societies and communities alike which have been ruled by the impressions and narratives delivered by the concept of race would most likely be the ones delving into such questions or in other case, rhetorics.
In about a week ago, a recent advent was reignited through an age-old conversation about colorism in the music industry. The issue of race and colorism is one sharp edged prick which most participants and volunteers have refused to take cognisance of. Last week, DaniLeigh faced backlash for her song “Yellow Bone,” which she described as a song for light-skinned women. “Yellow bone that’s what he want,” she sings in a teaser she released on her Instagram page. There were virtual murmurings and questioning within her fan base as everyone wondered why she’d want to get in that path of controversy through a very delicate topic. “Why can’t I make a song for my light skinned baddies ??” she asked under the post. “Why y’all think I’m hating on other colors when there are millions of songs speaking on all types.. Why yall so sensitive & take it personal.. gahhhh damn.”
This social reaction to DaniLeigh’s snippet says a lot about our state of mind, that we have become used to linking matters to race even if they don’t have a racial basis. Our preferences for specific musical genres do not have a basis in our genetic makeup, if one regards race as a genetically determined phenomenon. We should take delight because in respect of music, there is only one race: the human race. It has to come as a tremendously liberating realisation that music is one of the attributes that makes humans human. By engaging in music, humans articulate their humanness and even more so, their humanity. They have done so since the dawn of humankind in Africa.
We haven’t heard “Yellow Bone” in its entirety, but the preview is definitely cringeworthy. Apparently, the song is about a man’s preference for the light skinned lady and this doesn’t exactly sit well with the hearers especially judging from the fact that the conveyer is herself not what we call a totally light skinned female. It doesn’t take much to deduce how the Black community, and particularly Black women, could find the song offensive. One thing justifiable about DaniLeigh’s plight is that there is music that celebrates brown skin, but that’s largely in response to the decades where being light was synonymous with desirability.
In societies plagued by strong cultural divisions, music can be a very significant vehicle for reconciliation. Music is not a universal language, but it holds a special significance and meaning for every one of us.