this is the first in a planned mini series on contraversial topics in modern music if this one goes well, the next one is gonna be called Metal Misogyny? and they are just designed to be thought provoking little articles.

Slaves to the Rhythm
Musical Controversy #1

It is a strange irony that modern popular music owes so much to something so atrocious as the Slave Trade. However in my opinion this is the point to which we can trace the roots of modern music. However before I begin this I would like to make it clear that this is the personal opinion of a 19 year old from the UK from a white middle class background so keep any ?white hater? ?you hate black people? comments to yourself please, I am simply attempting to put forward and interesting theory and point of view that is.

When we think of those who have had the greatest impact on popular music in the last 100 years or so many of them are Black descendents of slaves men like Robert Johnson, Jimi Hendrix, Miles Davis and Louis Armstrong amongst others, have all been pioneers of what we now recognise as the modern rock, blues or pop music sound. However many people would argue that Elvis built the modern sound, This is an opinion that personally I think is wrong. Elvis was an imitator not a pioneer. The fact is that with the institutionalised racism still present in the USA in the 50?s he was able to reach a mass audience that musicians like Little Richard and Chuck berry were not. Another reason that he was more able to reach a mass audience was the fact his lyrics were not as dirty, for example in the song ?tooty fruity? there is a line ?tooty fruity, on rooty? this is in fact not the original lyric the original was ?loose booty?. The reason for this can be found in the social situation of America at that time where most if not all afro-carrbiens were forced into a working class background where the language is often more coarse, also due to this segregation the culture and slang were different, and it is that culture and slang that have helped to shape the modern sound an lyrics.

Another way in which this sale of humanity helped to shape the modern sound track arrived in the UK in the 1950?s many of those who had been transported to places like Jamaica were now moving to the UK and brining their music with them, and also wanting to retain ?Black Culture? would listen to many of the Black Jazz and Blues musicians who would extend their influence to people like Clapton and Page before again being changed for a more (or perhaps by the 60?s less) conservative Audience.

This combining of genres is still an ongoing process for example in the late 70?s punk and Reggae fused to form Ska, in the early 90?s bands like Rage against the machine took the genres of Rap the genre that in the 80?s was seen as the voice of Afro American freedom and the genre of metal, one that was and to a great extent still is considered a ?white genre? and created a new sound, and this is an idea that has been taken a step further by Skindred. However having said that Metal is often thought of as being a ?white? genre it?s roots once again lie back in American Blues music, after all back when they were still calling themselves Polka Tulk, Black Sabbath were a blues band, indeed Iommi tends not to stray to far outside of the Hexatonic Blues scale that is so beloved of the delta.

The Fact is that in Europe we had exhausted all our own ingenuity writing bloody great symphonies and other so called ?High Art? music to the detriment of the grass roots musician who was unable to get greater recognition and traditional folk music had little or no interest in this many songs being either very regional specific or dated (about being press ganged in the Napoleonic era ect) Blues and Jazz were both Genres that were about the Grass roots musician, the experience sung about were universal and also they were primarily about THE NOW, not the past or about something unobtainable, which is exactly what most modern music is about unless of course your in a power metal band singing about slaying dragons . This is why we are still all 'Slaves to the Rhythm'.

That?s Your Lot!


EDIT:thisis a work in progress and probably needs some expantion so a few ideas/music references would be nice!
I may even take it totaly to bits and replan then rewrite the whole thing tbh
Last edited by sillybuuger12 at Sep 7, 2006,
Very well written as usual, and I couldn't agree more on the Iommi and early metal/even current metal points you raised.
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I don't see how it's ironic that pop music has roots in the slave trade. I definitely think you should kind of focus it a little more, or streamline it. Towards the end you start getting a bit all over the place.
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Last edited by Dirk Gently at Sep 8, 2006,