Deeper Than Rap: The Black Influence on Music

It is safe to say that hip-hop has taken over as the dominant musical expressions of African-Americans that follow “Soul” and “Rhythm & Blues” as a black musical tradition that was adopted by whites.

We often forget how much African Americans have influenced other genres, especially rock ‘n roll and “country”. Part of reason is there are more whites  than black in those genres today.

The Black influence on American music may be acknowledged, but it is also under-appreciated. Look at and listen to the rock stars today; what we see mostly white guys with long hair wailing lyrics over a guitar riff.   Blame it on the “The Beatles” with their mop hairdos and “Liverpudlian” accents that morphed”, into the “Rolling Stones”, “Nirvana” and eventually to Marilyn Mansion. We rarely see the any ink  to Black musicianin the context of modern rock today.

Few of us know that the “King of Rock ‘N Roll”: Elvis Presley, owed a great part of his style to Black artists like Chuck Berry who for many, was the real King of Rock.

Artists such as Berry, Ike Turner and Little Richard were producing the kind of music Elvis, The Rolling Stones and other rock star heavyweights mimicked for years to come. It grew and changed, but the southern black roots of rock ‘n roll is still there, if hidden beneath the sequins and “brat pack” hairdos.

“Country music” is American musical genera associated White Southerners in cowboy hats and boots and acoustic guitars; but to hear real “Blues”, you find a list of black performers that go back to the nineteen century. It can be said “Blues” is the true “American Music”. As the legendary Etta James once said, “The blues and country are cousins”.

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