June 26, 2019 / 2:58 PM

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Derrick Carter, Legendary House DJ, Speaks On Cultural Smudging In Dance Music



Over the past week, the hip hop community has been embroiled in controversy and debate over "cultural misappropriation" or cultural smudging," notably directed at Iggy Azalea the new white chick on the block. Everyone from Azealia Banks (of course), to T.I., to Lupe Fiasco to Q-Tip have weighed in on the topic, 140 characters at a time on Twitter. Derrick Carter, one of the original house DJs from Chicago, is looking to start that dialogue in dance music. As reported by The Fader, Carter shared his thoughts on his personal Facebook about how dance music has become noticeably whiter since its days origins as a gay and black genre.

"I'ma start some sh-t today ... and by 'sh-t' I mean dialogue and debate.

"So, this really jumped on my radar yesterday thanks to the power outage we had on my block and the need to pass some time while in the dark (no pun intended). With Almond Brown's post of the Hot 97 interview & James Allen's post of this article it got me thinking about how I often draw similar conclusions to the commodification of house music. Something that started as a gay black/Latino club music and is now sold, shuffled, and packaged as having very little to do with either. [Resident Advisor] top 100, [DJ Mag] top 100, hell ANY top 100 ... show me the gay brown faces — Sh-t! Show me EITHER the gay or brown faces — and then discuss 'cultural smudging.'

"Now, I'm definitely not being disparaging against anyone else's journey, tastes, ambitions, or preferences. We are all entitled to be who or what we want to be and do what we feel, regardless of skin color or sexual proclivities. It often seems to be the case that some types of people receive preferential treatment in certain matters. And it's not normally the ones with a cultural disadvantage."

Carter's argument stems from the fact that in the late 1970s and early 1980s, gays and blacks in clubs in Detroit, New York and Chicago embraced dance music in the United States. Whites by and large shunned it and tried to fight disco and house, as was seen with Disco Demolition Night at The White Sox baseball stadium in 1979. Disco and house went underground and became embraced by the black and gay communities. 

However if you look around at concerts and festivals today, the commercialized nature of the genre has created an environment that caters to upper middle class heterosexual whites.

Who is to blame, or if anyone to blame for this, is up for debate. However it is a discussion worth having as the country struggles with race on many different issues.

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