Diversity in the Music Industry: Why Representation is Important

Diversity in the Music Industry: Why Representation is Important

The overwhelming dominance of the white/black dynamic in western music.
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In 2015, the Internet has afforded hopeful musicians a level of freedom that did not exist at any other point in history. With the rise of social media, in particular websites like SoundCloud, aspiring artists from all over the world can upload their creations onto the web and wait for a positive (or negative) reaction from Internet-savvy music lovers.

We live in a time where the “gatekeepers” of the music industry have morphed from an undeniable and unwavering force, into a vague, antiquated relic of a rapidly evolving entertainment landscape. In the past, if you were a young individual with dreams of breaking into the entertainment industry, you might have met with a record label and presented them the bare bones. A rough, unrefined sound, and somewhat of an idea of how you want to deliver your work to the world. At this point, an A&R (Artist and Repertoire) from the label would review your content, and devise what they consider to be the most effective strategy for the artist to progress their career and eventually become successful. Previously, the A&R acted as a necessary bridge between the corporate label-heads and the wide-eyed, if somewhat naive musician. In theory, the A&R could determine a means by which the artist could maintain a desired level of artistic integrity, coupled with increased exposure, while simultaneously bending enough to the will of the record-label CEO’s to evolve into a valuable profit-generator.

After all, record-labels are businesses at the end of the day, whose primary purpose is to bring money in. As idealistic as it would be to view companies like Universal and Warner as money-pools for artists to draw from in order to facilitate their dreams, these companies main concern is the all mighty dollar. But in this new technological era, it has come time to call into question the relevancy of the once needed A&R role.

Although there are unquestionably certain benefits associated with major record labels, for some, there is the ever-present fear that these labels might seek too much control. With money serving as a primary motivator for these large entities, it is sensible for artists to be afraid that in order for them to become successful, they may have to surrender their personal vision to appease executives.

However, the newfound freedom provided via the Internet has created a path much less conventional than the ways of yesteryears. With artists being able to easily upload their music online without having to consult a talking head first, the musician’s art can be digested in a way that feels authentic and undiluted by ulterior motives.

Take for example, @kiiaraonline, who mysteriously appeared on SoundCloud a couple of months ago, and has already garnered over 2 million total plays. In a sense, this has presumably made the job of the A&R easier. Rather than having to work with an artist who doesn’t quite know what they want other than to be heard, A&R’s can now simply peruse a website like YouTube or SoundCloud.

At this point, they can then get in contact with people who have already crafted a concrete identity, and at the very least are confident enough in their current sound that they are comfortable with their music being heard by strangers online. One of the current most famous stars in the world was discovered on YouTube, and went on to make over $50 million touring in 2013. The music industry is currently host to a cast of characters, including Canadian-born stars such as Drake and The Weeknd, to American sweethearts and chart mainstays Taylor Swift and Ariana Grande. But if one were to survey the top 20 songs on the US iTunes chart right now, they would see that 19 out of 20 of the songs have something in common, despite spanning across several different genres.

Out of all 20 songs, 19 of them are by artists that are either white or black (or a combination of the two). And this brings us to the crux of this piece. There is a noticeable lack of diverse perspectives being prominently shared in today’s popular music scene.

Although it is possible to find success via the utilization of numerous social mediums and musical genre’s, the actual voices that are being heard on a large scale are marginal at best. It seems like an eternity since the tragic passing of the iconic Mexican-American singer Selena, who broke boundaries and brought Latin music in America to a previously unprecedented level. Not only was Selena an absolutely dominating force at the time in terms of sales, she is still being celebrated to this day.



Representation is truly important, especially for impressionable young people who are continuously consuming media. Having the ability to turn on the television and see someone who looks like you, and probably grew up similarly from a cultural perspective, might inspire those who were unsure of their own potential to chase their dreams. Who can be looked to as a representative for Asian-Americans that is getting as much exposure as some of the most popular pop culture figures of the past several years? There was a short-lived but intense obsession with K-pop/rap star PSY, who’s “Gangnam Style” video has over 2 billion views on YouTube. But who is talking about him today? It is crucial that artists from varying backgrounds amount to more than temporary fads, quick to be tossed out like an old toy once a child has grown tired of it.

That is why it is important that artists like Kali Uchis, a Colombian-American singer who is currently on the rise get’s an opportunity to be as equally promoted as Meghan Trainor or Jason Derulo.



That is why it is necessary that buzzing K-pop star CL is on the cover of Paper Magazine and is working with Scooter Braun (Justin Bieber’s manager) in hopes to make a commercial splash in America.



Is there a magic cure that will instantaneously solve this issue of representation? Unfortunately no. However, discussing it is a necessary and critical first step. Hopefully there will one day exist an entertainment industry where things like this do not happen because a greater effort is being made to give the under-represented the voice that they deserve. The United States is a place of sprawling diversity, home to individuals from all over the globe who have their own unique languages, cultures and upbringings. With that said, it is important that pop culture reflects that as best, and as equally, as possible.

Cover Image Credit: http://saintheron.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/selena.jpg

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80 Nicki Minaj Lyrics Perfect For Instagram Captions

"Yo, you seen my last pic, go double-tap that for me."
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Nicki Minaj lets the world know about her amazing Instagram skills in Beyonce's "Flawless," when she raps "Instagram another flawless pic." Do you have a #Flawless Instagram picture but need a clever caption to go with it? The Queen of Rap has plenty of Insta-worthy song lyrics.

*(Some lyrics have been edited to keep this article "PG". Feel free to look up the real Nicki Minaj lyrics if you hate the radio edit.)


When you want to diss a hater:

    1. "You couldn't get a fan if it was hangin' from the ceilin."
    2. "I'm throwing shade like it's sunny."
    3. "I'm in my own lane, you ain't in my category."
    4. "These (girls) couldn’t test me even if their name was Pop Quiz."
    5. "Yo, people will love you and support you when it's beneficial. I'ma forgive, I won't forget, but I'ma dead the issue."
    6. "Not that I don't got good vision, but I don't see competition."
    7. "I’m Angelina, you Jennifer. Come on (girl), you see where Brad at."
    8. "I look like "yes" and you look like "no"."
    9. "But if you're ugly it's a no text zone."
    10. "If you are my rival, then that means you're suicidal."
    11. "Shout out to my haters, Sorry that you couldn't faze me."
    12. "Trash talk to 'em then I put 'em in a Hefty."
    13. "Like I mean I don't even know why you girls bother at this point. Like give up, it's me, I win, you lose."
    14. "All these haters mad because I'm so established."
    15. "Competition? why yes I would love some."

















When you want to tell people how awesome you are:

    16. "If I'm fake I ain't notice, cause my money ain't."
    17. "You can hate me, but why knock my hustle? I'ma be the queen, no matter how they shuffle."
    18. "Let me make this clear, I’m not difficult, I’m just ’bout my business."
    19. "I'm feelin' myself."
    20. "Excuse me honey, but nobody's in my lane."
    21. "Put me on a dollar cause I'm who they trust in."
    22. "I don’t say “Hi”, I say “Keys to the Benz.”"
    23. "I've been hot since flip phones" "Running this game for 5 years. Guess that's why my feet hurt."
    24. "Hotter than a middle eastern climate."
    25. "My money’s so tall that my Barbies gotta climb it."
    26. "No, I'm not lucky, I'm blessed, yes."
    27."I ain't gotta compete with a single soul."
    28. "'X' in the box, cause ain't nobody checking me."
    29."Excuse me, I'm sorry, I'm really such a lady."
    30. "Honestly I gotta stay as fly as I can be."














When you're hanging with your clique:

    31. "Cherish these nights, cherish these people. Life is a movie, but there will never be a sequel."
    32. "I’m with some hood girls lookin’ back at it."
    33. "We dope girls, we flawless. We the poster girls for all this."
    34. "Pretty gang, always keep them (boys) on geek."
    35. "The night is still young, and so are we!"
    36. "If you ain’t on the team, you playin’ for team D, ’Cause we A-listers, we paid sisters."
    37. "Pretty (girls) only could get in my posse."
    38. "Cause we the mean girls, y-yes we so fetch."
    39. "We fresh to death, down to the shoes."
    40. "Ain't at no wedding but all my girls cake tops."
    41. "Got a whole bunch of pretty gang in my clique."
    42. "Clap for the heavyweight champ, me, But I couldn't do it all alone, WE."
    43. "Put your drinks up, It's a celebration every time we link up."
    44. "I'm with some flawless (girls) because they be mobbin' pretty."


















When you're hanging with your significant other:

    45. "He tryna kick it like a ninja."
    46. "He could tell that I was wifey material."
    47. "Ayo, I just wanna be your first go to."
    48. "You got spark, you, you got spunk. You, you got something all the girls want."
    49. Find me in the dark, I'll be in the stars, Find me in your heart, I'm in need of your love."
    50. "They holler at me, but it's you, you."
    51. "I'm not living right, I’m not living if you’re not by my side."
    52. "I just wanna be somebody that can add to, your wife, be a friend, be a teacher and a fan, too."
    53. "I just wanna be your favorite."
    54. "He was the realest, I was the baddest, we was the illest."
    55. "I know you can save me and make me feel alive."
    56. "Yes I'll be your girl, forever your lady, You ain't ever gotta worry, I'm down for you baby."
    57. "Baby you my everything, You all I ever wanted."

















When you're single and loving it:

    58. "You could be the king, but watch the queen conquer!"
    59. "Thats why I'm crowned queen, and I ain't looking for the prom king."
    60. "I like independent, like July 4th."
    61. "I ain't never need a man, to take care of me."
    62. "He be like, "Yo, you so legendary", But he can tell just by my face he ain't getting any."
    63. "I am not Jasmine, I am Aladdin."
    64. "I don't even brake when I'm backing up, I'll swerve on a (boy) if he acting up."
    65. "So many boys in here where do I begin?"











When you're just living life:

    66. "I never worry, life is a journey. I just wanna enjoy the ride."
    67. "Tonight is the night that I'ma get twisted."
    68. "I’mma keep it movin', be classy and graceful."
    69. "So make sure the stars is what you aim for, make mistakes though."
    70. "And we gon' hangover the next day. But we will remember this day."
    71. "My only motto in my life is don't lose."
    72. "Take me, or leave me, I'll never be perfect. Believe me, I'm worth it."
    73. "I believe that life is a prize, but to live doesn't mean you're alive."
    74. "I wish that I could have this moment for life."
    75. "If I scream, if I cry, It's only 'cause I feel alive."
    76. "I can't believe it, it's so amazing. This club is heating, this party's blazing.""
    77. "It's so amazing, I figured out this world is ours for the taking."
    78. "I am not a girl that can ever be defined."
    79. "I got next, I'm gonna shine."
    80. "This is my moment I just feel so alive."















Cover Image Credit: Nicki Minaj

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The Queen Of Soul Leaves A Story To Tell And A Voice That Cannot Be Replicated

Aretha Franklin may have passed on, but her legacy will live forever.

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On March 25, 1942, Aretha Franklin was born. The daughter of a well-known and highly respected Baptist Minister and Gospel singer from Memphis, Tennessee would soon move to Detroit, Michigan, where Aretha would meet lifelong friends and musical contributors.

Aretha Franklin was engulfed in music from the day she was born and, by the middle of the 1950s, Aretha had learned to play piano and began singing alongside her sisters in the church choir. It was during this time that Franklin first met strong, historical figures, such as Clara Ward, Smokey Robinson, and civil rights activists Martin Luther King Jr. and Jesse Jackson. These are notable family friends that would stand by Aretha's side many times in the future.

Like many people finding themselves in the spotlight, there is more to Aretha Franklin's story than what is put in the tabloids. There are deeper events in her timeline that contribute to her emotion-filled voice. At the small age of six, Aretha endured her mother's leaving of the family and death four years later.

Aretha began a family of her own at the age of 12. In 1956, Clarence, Franklin's first son was born. Two years after, Aretha gave birth to her son Edward.

In the years that make up the start of the Franklin Clan, Aretha Franklin signed to Columbia Records and moved to New York. Moderate success would be found in the next five years of her music career. In 1961, Aretha Franklin was married and conceived her third child, Teddy Jr., with her newly-wedded husband.

While moderate success is admirable, Aretha signed with Atlantic Records and, in 1967, released an album "I Never Loved A Man The Way I Loved You" with a hit track of the same name giving Aretha Franklin her first Top 10 hit.

Following the great success of her 1967 album, Aretha moved on to release other critically acclaimed hit songs, including, "Respect," "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman," "Chain Of Fools" and more, earning her several Grammy awards and the cover of Time Magazine, where her nickname, The Queen Of Soul, was born.

To the outside world, Aretha Franklin was constantly moving up, but, behind closed doors, Aretha's personal life was struggling. Ms. Franklin has a history of arrests for disorderly conduct and reckless driving. She had also developed an unhealthy relationship with alcohol. Franklin divorced her abusive husband, Ted White, and allowed the experience to serve as inspiration in the studio. Aretha was married and gave birth to her fourth son, Kecalf, in the 1970s. The relationship would end in 1984.

Along with her growing popularity as a singer, Aretha Franklin became a symbol of pride for many black Americans during the climax of the Civil Rights Movement. Many women, also looked to Aretha as a strong black woman that is living proof of what Black Women can be.

Aretha Franklin was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, in 1987, becoming the first women to ever be listed.

As times changed and music continued to redefine itself, it became difficult for a soul-gospel singer to stay in the spotlight. Nevertheless, Aretha Franklin always found a way to release a hit that transcended the ever-changing boundaries of music. With collaborations, covers, an autobiography, and The Presidential Medal Of Freedom awarded in 2005, Aretha Franklin never left the minds of all who cared to listen and pay attention. She continued to inspire multiple generations and give breath-taking performances that reminded the world why she was, indeed, The Queen Of Soul.

Aretha Franklin spoke to hearts around the world with the utter of one subtle note. Her ability to stay relevant, no matter the age group, amazed but did not surprise. The world knew she was one of a kind. The world knew there was only one Aretha. Through the years, Ms. Franklin never altered to fit in and never strayed away from the type of music she wanted to produce for the happiness of others. Her name alone is a cause for celebration. The amount of records she holds is mind-boggling. Her music narrated, not only her personal endeavors but the lives of people worldwide. A personal connection can be made when listening to any of her songs. Aretha Franklin is a standing ovation within herself.

Little did the outside world know, Ms. Franklin had been battling illness for years, behind-the-scenes. Although occasional rumors would ring of her health, Aretha dodged all questions and killed all concerns with poise and a brilliant smile. She did not want the world to know of her health issues, no matter how small. A longtime friend of Aretha Franklin told People Magazine, "She has been ill for a long time, She did not want people to know and she didn't make it public." Word spread of a battle between Aretha Franklin and Pancreatic Cancer for many years, although, of course, no confirmation or details were given on the matter.

It started to become hard to hide the ailing condition of The Queen once shows frequently began to be canceled, due to doctors orders. Aretha had announced in February of 2017 that she would be retiring from music, but may take the stage at select events. Franklin was true to her word and returned to the stage in August of 2017 and at the Elton John AIDS Foundation's Enduring Vision benefit gala in November of the same year. Fans became highly concerned by the more than noticeable shift in Aretha Franklin's appearance.

A close friend of the phenomenal singer told TMZ, "she could go at any time," and mentioned that she was down 85 lbs. This information was given two weeks ago. Unfortunately, better updates did not follow.

On the morning of Thursday, August 16, 2018, The Queen Of Soul, Aretha Franklin passed away. She leaves behind her soul-touching music, a record of more than 20 chart-topping R&B; hits and 18 Grammy wins, and anthems that will live for ages. She is survived by her four sons.

Unfortunately, nothing lasts forever, and, while the physical body that is Aretha Franklin has moved on to Glory, the teachings and inspirations of her soul shall live forever. Like many idols before her, it is indeed hard to say goodbye, but let us be grateful for the time we had to witness the greatness that is Aretha Louise Franklin. May she rest in sound peace.

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