Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Dorf Matrix: Explaining NPR's Terrible taste in Black Music

When I saw this title, I laughed at loud, remembering all the times i've heard Victor Wooten slap a cheese-filled bass line across NPR's airwaves. I must say I really like NPR and its music programming (probably because I'm a bearded, college-grad white dude, as the article references) but the article does have a good point about NPR's programming in general.

article via Slate's culture blog "browbeat" by writer Jody Rosen:

"In August, National Public Radio's flagship music program All Songs Considered published "The Best Music of 2009 (So Far)," a rundown of the top 30 songs and albums of the year-to-date as voted by the show's listeners.

The results of the survey suggest that the All Songs Considered audience has a fuzzy understanding of the word "all." "The Best Music of 2009 (So Far)" consists almost entirely of indie-rockers: acts like The Decemberists, Wilco, Grizzly Bear, Neko Case, Andrew Bird, Regina Spektor, and Animal Collective, the Brooklyn art-rock group that took the top spot in both the best songs and best albums tallies. On the Best Songs list, there are no songs that cracked the Top 40 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts, and none by African-American performers. Two black artists, Danger Mouse and Mos Def, made the Best Albums list, at numbers 20 and 23, respectively.

None of this is a surprise, of course. NPR's audience skews white and college-educated; so does Animal Collective's fan-base. In matters of musical taste, everyone has a God-given right to provincialism and conservatism, even those NPR listeners who consider themselves cosmopolitan and liberal. The numbers, of course, tell a different story. The NPR list leans not just white, but male—dudes with beards and guitars. So far in 2009, the No. 1 song on the Billboard charts has been by a black or female artist—or by groups featuring both blacks and whites or men and women—a total of 41 out of 42 weeks. (The exception is the current No. 1 hit, "Down," a collaboration between an Anglo-Asian R & B singer, Jay Sean, and an African-American rapper, Lil Wayne.) Who are the progressives again—the public radio crowd or the Top 40 great unwashed?"

read the rest of the article HERE

No comments: