It goes both ways

I was sitting in the drive thru of a Jack in the Box the other day and I got to thinking: man, I really need to get my life together man, black people really do love “True” by Spandau Ballet.

Which is ironic because I don’t know if I know any white people who are into that song. Not that I’ve conducted any surveys or anything, but I remember one time we were having this meeting at the BGM and “True” came over the Muzak. One person was like, Good Lord, not this song. Everyone else just kinda chuckled. My guess is that if I wasn’t the only black person working at the BGM, someone would’ve been like, Damn, that’s my jam!

True story, no pun intended.

Of course “True” was most famously sampled by PM Dawn, who famously got tossed from a stage by KRS-One. But according to one of these essays I was reading from this year’s Pazz and Jop, PM Dawn was every cracka-ass cracka’s favorite group of 1991, not unlike the Clipse 15 years later. Hmm…

But I’m sure white people’s[1] tastes in hip-hop have evolved quite a bit since then, right?

Of course they haven’t, but here’s the thing: It goes both ways. White people tend to fetishize certain aspects of black music that aren’t particularly worth a shit, but white people might actually have better taste in black music than black people do in white music.

Case in point: black people’s fascination with John Mayer.

Black people love John Mayer – so much so, in fact, that it didn’t seem out of the ordinary when they had him perform in a neo-soul showcase alongside the likes of John Legend and Corinne Bailey Ray at this year’s Grammys. He’s basically a black artist at this point.

MTV did a story on this a little over three years ago. I did a story on it then for my own blog, which again highlights how very little I’ve done with my life.

As Jay-Z put it back then:

“[He's] smooth. You can throw it on in the car, you know, get lost in your thoughts.”

Kanye West:

“His lyrics are really inspirational. He words stuff with a real, I guess it’s witty, intelligent, very human [sensibility]. I would like to grab some of those qualities.”

Pharrell from the Neptunes:

“He’s dope and he’s talented. You get this ’70s pop-rock sensibility with the writing that he does. You know, the dude is a real musician. It’s like anything you ever loved in Joe Jackson or anything you ever loved in any ’70s rock. You’re gonna get it out of this dude. He’s a real student, and it comes through in his music.”

To be sure, John Mayer is pretty well liked among actual white people. You don’t get to take pictures of Jennifer Love Hewitt’s boobs on TV (like caressing the holy grail) unless you’re pretty good at what you do. (He’s also been linked to Jessica Simpson, which I think is a pretty good indicator of what he’s into.) But would he be where is today if black people had better taste in white music?

Here’s the thing: I don’t begrudge anyone the freedom to listen whatever kind of music they like. If you see something in “True” beyond what’s there, i.e. nothing, good for you. At least someone’s enjoying their life.

I think it becomes bothersome when other people’s misguided tastes begin to actually dictate the course of popular music; when Hell Hath No Fury becomes the most critically acclaimed album of the year because white people think the Clipse actually sell crack, or when John Mayer gets one of the R&B spots at the Grammys because he reminds Pharrell Williams of Joe Jackson.

At the same time, it’s important to remember that taste is subjective. It’s easy to mock someone else because their own tastes don’t align with ours, but how many of us can really claim that our own taste is beyond any sort of criticism? I know I can’t, and I can’t say that bothers me.

[1] Note that I like to speak in generalities here. It makes my stories more interesting.

  • Illmatic620

    I hate you bol but there is undeniable truth in this particular blog

  • thatdukeSuave

    Good post Bol. John Mayer, and James Blunt, are revered by black people and my girlfriend alike. Personally I’d rather open the door on my piece of shit car and hang out just far enough to let my forehead scrape pavement at 60+ mph than to actually listen to either for more than 12 seconds. But to each his own.

  • Hannah Smith

    Best quote ever: “Kenny G makes music for black people” – Lil Fame to a UK magazine.

  • BIG ROB

    Bol, you forgot to mention that John Mayer is dope in the electric guitar. I think your just jelous of his guitar skills. Hes most loved by black people than you are, damn!

  • first

    last

  • yayboy

    First bitches!

  • http://sexy-results.blogspot.com Ian

    See also: Chris Martin.

  • http://www.myspace.com/16kingz da’realestwritin’

    FUCK DAT! I’M ROCKIN WIT’ DA GYM CLASS HEREO’S,FALLOUT BOY AND WHOE EVER SINGS THAT ONE SHIT “IT’S NOT OVER..IT’S NOT OVER” OR SUMIN’ LIKE DAT, OH YEAH CAN’t FORGET MY NIGGAS NICKELBACK IN THIS BITCH!! I got great music taste it’s the rest you sqaures wwho ain’t up on it!

  • http://myspace.com/djchase247 Eastside Bread Maker

    Quite honestly, the only thing that i know John Mayer from is Kanye’s album, but me personally, I don’t endulge in music like that. Him and even the other white boy Robin Thicke, they may be good at what they do, but its just not my cup of tea (as my grandmother used to say).

    And for the record, I too cannot find what is so spectacular about that clipse album. Minus, Mr. Me Too, Ride Around Shining, Hello New World, Chinese New Year and Nightmares, the album pretty much sucks.

  • John Brown

    Hallelujah Hollaback.

  • John Brown

    Fuck the only time I heard john mayer, was on the Chapelle Show.

  • Belize

    So far ur blogs have been tastin’ like shyt

  • Avenger

    Whatever man music in general sucks

  • jacquez
  • Meka Soul

    don’t tell me i’m the only one that bugs out over the bucketheads every now & then.

    no ace of base.

  • Belize

    ^Naw i fux with it too,,,but what was the sayin “beantown?”

  • Belize

    Its all about Tears of Fear’s “Shout”…I have no idea why theres is no HipHop RMX

    somebody get Busta and MOP on the horn

  • thoreauly77

    darealestwritin- sorry man, but your taste actually supports bol’s opinion. fall-out boy, seriously? i wonder ho wyou would know that bol since you dont know any black people?

  • http://www.myspace.com/16kingz da’realestwritin’

    thoreauly77 Says:

    February 13th, 2007 at 3:28 pm
    darealestwritin- sorry man, but your taste actually supports bol’s opinion. fall-out boy, seriously?
    ^^^^^^
    HELL YEAH!! NAW.. NOT REALLY BUT I DO FUCKS WIT’ A LOTTA GOOFY ASS SHIT JUS’ TO STOP THE MONOTENY!(i think that’s how u spell it!).I GET TIRED OF RIMS, SHOOTINGS,BABYMOTHERS,CRACK HOUSES ETC.,ETC. SOME TIME YOU NEED TOESCAPE FROM YO’ OWN REALITY..SHIT TO TELL THE TRUTH A NIGGA’LL HIT THE PIFF AND ZONE OUT ON SOME TOM COLLINS!

  • My Effin’ Opinion

    “white people might actually have better taste in black music than black people do in white music.”

    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^

    Correction: white people might actually have better taste in black music then Bol does

  • http://www.thursdayplantation.blogspot.com lar

    it always seemed to me like Whites are willing to dig deeper for their black music than blacks are for white music. whites are the more skilled ‘culture-jackers’ so it’s only natural- whereas when black folk say they like white acts it tends to be very mainstream shit.

    where the gin blossoms fit into this is up to you bol. nullus.

  • Tyler

    Black people have awful taste in white music. . . Not if U are Black and U are bumpin’ ‘dat UrbanRock found at:
    http://www.myspace.com/marcusorealiusmusic
    http://www.myspace.com/marcmaysrockandrollthug

  • Rizzop

    Good post! its obvious that music has always transcended race. Good music is good music. Point.blank. period. I aint buying that cracka shit though!

  • http://www.tonyskansascity.com Tony

    Damn, from PM Dawn to Mayer to the Clipse . . . Bol tied that shit (and I do-do mean shit) together nicely. Nice post.

  • http://whocareswhatpeoplethink thecollinb

    when aren’t you in the drive thru for Jack in the Box Bol?
    away from that this is pretty introspective…..decent read, valid point.

  • M

    this post just shows how young you are.

    i remember when “True” came out. white people were stabbing themselves in the thigh over that song. they shun it today for two reasons: 1) it’s a little too syrupy a song to co-sign in public and 2) they played it out so hard back then that they never wanna hear it again, on some “In The Club” shit.

  • http://www.allhiphop.com Rey

    You’re also forgetting about Tony Sunshine’s cover of ‘She’s Like the Wind’, which is a Patrick Swayze song. Yeah, he’s puerto rican, but that should count too. In any event, you seem really depressed lately, Ashlee. I dunno if that’s just you messing around to show mock humility after InterviewGate, or if all that post interview bashing really did get you down. Whatever the case is, Chins Up, Ash. I’d love to see you get bitch slapped by Kanye West one day, but that doesn’t mean I’m not a fan. No Dipset.

  • r

    British rappers are the best, black or white

  • NickeNitro

    From my experience, more white people tend to be far more interested in attaining some nonexistent, pretentious idea of “good taste” to feel self-important or like they have the right answer or whatever, and more black people tend to like what they know they like without worrying about it.

    Also, white people tend to arrogantly (and aggressively) criticize other people’s tastes more. But that makes no sense because, like you said, taste is subjective. If everyone had the same taste and/or there was some singular notion of “good taste,” we would be living in a very mundane, assimilated world.

    And, in my opinion, people who try too hard to show they have “good taste” usually end up listening to stuff that sounds like shit because labels can buy positive reviews to trick them into buying crap.

  • SONNY CHEEBA

    ^^^fall back Rey…

    Fat Man Bol needs to wallow in his own sad existence alil’ while longer!

    John Mayer is fucking annoying, and ur talking to a guy who listens to more rock & pop than Bol (true story)

    He ain’t the real deal, he’s like the lil wayne of rock!

    He wouldn’t be shit 10,20,30yrs ago!

  • Stephon Johnson

    Being a fellow Negro around Bol’s age who listens to as much rock & pop as do rap and r&b. I think that he’s right…to a certain extent.

    I know many black people who like Coldplay, but I know several black people who absolutely hate them. My favorite band is Tool but for a while I was a HUGE Creed fan (and I also like Pearl Jam so figure that one out).

    Think of all the white people who hate Hall & Oates. Now think of all the black folks that loved them back in the day.

    Think of how many white people love The Roots. When’s the last time you heard someone black say something about that band that wasn’t negative.

    BTW: Fall Out Boy singles have been tight, but I would never purchase one of their albums…they’re a band that was made for illegal downloading.

  • http://brandonsoderberg.blogspot.com brandonsoderberg

    Yeah…I’m a white dude so I always feel weird when I’ve said it, but yeah, black people have horrible taste in white music. It’s weird that guys like Kanye or Jay-Z really dig Coldplay or Franz Ferdinand or something. It primarily has to do with the way that mainstream black music and white music, until very recently, were pretty hermetically sealed. As in, Kanye probably didn’t grow up with rock music so his only experience is the really popular stuff. If he had a bit more rock history, he’d realize that Franz Ferdinand or John Mayer not only suck but are really derivative of older rock music.

    However, as I’m typing this I think of something like ‘Slow Jamz’ which mentions like, Al Green in the same breath Freddie Jackson. Now, I sorta like Freddie Jackson but he’s not on the same level as like Al Green and other 70s soul singers while many people, especially black people, seem to connect them as being the same. So maybe black people just have poor taste in music in general (joke.)? It’s not that black people have bad taste in music it’s that they somehow seem a bit less discerning or disinterested in being discerning?

  • Meka Soul

    >Its all about Tears of Fear’s “Shout”…I have no idea why theres is no HipHop RMX

    somebody get Busta and MOP on the horn>

    LMAO. extra shout out to dee-lite & the cardigans.

  • Meka Soul

    and don’t forget about daft punk also.

  • calicheeba

    Kanye West:

    “His lyrics are really inspirational. He words stuff with a real, I guess it’s witty, intelligent, very human [sensibility]. I would like to grab some of those qualities(NO HOMO.).”

  • Meka Soul

    >Naw i fux with it too,,,but what was the sayin “beantown?”>

    it’s actually “these sounds fall into my miii-eee-iii-ee-iiinnnd.”

    damn, i just revealed my inner cracker.

  • soundbwoy

    cant even front fall ouy boys, green day ,u2 and coldplay(the beat with jay is crayzy) get mad airplay on my mp3

  • Trife Da Soul Ripper

    Good post still…

  • E-20

    most Black Folk like music. Its not our fault white folks music fell off. We had mad luv for thier music when it was good in the 70′s and 80′s but can’t nobody with good sense listen to MOST of thier new crap. I miss the white musicians who weren’t trying to be black all of the time.

  • Belize

    LMAO @ Meka

    and the whole time I thought it was a Boston anthem…ah well

  • Heat_Seeker

    That new fall out boy (Infinity on high) is crack!!!!

    **walks away singing**

    Cuuuttt it looooseee, watch you work the room…

  • eauhellzgnaw

    The avg. black person has very discriminating taste in music made by white folks. They may dismisss good white artists, but they rarely like garbage by white artists (except for Eminem, Paul Wall, etc.)

    I don’t think black people actually like John Mayer. I think that they’ve been fooled by rap artists they like (Jay Z, ?uestlove, Kanye, Com) praising his music. The same goes with Linkin Park.

  • FULL E BLOWN

    Black folks like white music with melody. The really melodic shit is always the pop mainstram crap on the radio. I’m black.

    Good white music is Lead Zepplin, Gary Newman, Guns and Roses, David Bowie (EARLY STUFF), Bob Dylan and I could go on for days about UK bands.

    To know if the new shit is hot, you got to know the old shit. Most don’t hear the old stuff. Just the syruppy sweet pop melodies on the radio.

    Hip hop couldn’t Afford melody. Nobody had synthesizers and piano lessons in the hood. We had to use samplers, old 99 cent pop records to get melody.

    Rap still samples today. For what, I don’t know? You can create melody on a computer using the right software and hip hop is a billion dollar business now. Get some piano lessons and leave those 99 cent records alone.

  • http://www.theartistwithwords.blogspot.com Davinche

    Your post was good till this part.

    “I think it becomes bothersome when other people’s misguided tastes begin to actually dictate the course of popular music; when Hell Hath No Fury becomes the most critically acclaimed album of the year because white people think the Clipse actually sell crack.”

    I think you got this wrong on so many levels. Firstly, Hell Hath no Fury is a great album, questioning their credibility is up to you but someone can question every rappers claims, its played out and pointless. What do you actually think Jay-Z was the drug kingpin in reasonable doubt as he portrayed himself to be? Clipse were not the first people to talk about selling cocaine so I don’t know why white people would suddenly be giving the album great reviews because they actually think they do that.

    And more importnatly, Clipse album flopped commercially. So that means white people (who actually buy music) aren’t dictating their albums great review; which was fully deserved. White people did not get into thier singles either, and so the album flopped.

    So no, white people did not like the album and cause it to dictate hip hop future. That was just ignorance on your part cause you needed something to tie in with your point, but you probably knew that anyways.

  • FULL E BLOWN

    Knowing what sounds not to use is more important than all the equipment in the world. For all my MPC dinosaurs out there.
    Now if you’ll excuse me, The Misses (Fellatio) is calling.

    Coming dear….

  • BREEZE

    “True” by Spandau Ballet…currently sampled in in Lloyd and Lil Waynes song together and the remix..GAy GAY

  • Dr Flav

    It was the Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis Aka Flyte Tyme production you could mix True with Love is a House(Force MDS), Even When You Sleep (SOS Band), Lets Wait A While (Janet Jackson), Sunshine (Alexander Oneal) and get that coolout vibe, perfect for Olde E, MD 20/20 and cooked cocaine intoxication of the mid to late 80s.

  • DANJA29

    white-people music that niggas will always love: tears for fears’ “shout”, spandau ballet’s “true”, george michael “careless whisper”, hall n oates “i can’t go for that”, and the GOAT- phil collins “in the air tonight”. and justin’s timbalake’s solo shit.

    you can’t go wrong w/ any of those.

  • Oshanae

    Music is music when you really break down it all depends on what u base it on for example the average white person who listen to hip-hop goes for that club, ying-yang twins shit, even if john mayer is loved by blacks (I dig him too) the majority of his fans are white regardless. We aren’t the one making him go platinum, were not dominanting his concerts so there fore white people are the ones who make these artists big. Spandau Ballet was a white majority as well so who really has the bad taste?

  • E AKA THE REAL NORIEAGA

    Meka Soul Says:

    February 13th, 2007 at 4:57 pm
    >Its all about Tears of Fear’s “Shout”…I have no idea why theres is no HipHop RMX

    somebody get Busta and MOP on the horn>

    LMAO. extra shout out to dee-lite & the cardigans.
    ^^^^^
    Don’t sleep on Blue Monday, 99 Luftaballons, Tainted Love, I’ll Melt With You

  • maracas

    I was lucky enough to have Doors records right next to the Ohio Players growing up.
    Yes on the Hall and Oates, Michael Mcdonald and Steely Dan(sampled by de la soul). I can’t say anything for John Mayer though.

    One word: Yachtrock.

  • jaguar_paw
  • jaguar_paw

    white-people music that mexicans will always love: tears for fears’ “shout”, spandau ballet’s “true”, george michael “careless whisper”, hall n oates “i can’t go for that”, and the GOAT- phil collins “in the air tonight”. and justin’s timbalake’s solo shit.

    you can’t go wrong w/ any of those.
    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
    cosign that shit!

  • EnglandRepresent

    British rappers are the best, black or white

    ^^Co-sign that shit

    PM Dawn was massive in the UK way back when…….that and Black Box, you can’t sleep on EMF ‘You’re Unbelievable’ either, that shit was my jam back in the day. I don’t really fuck with rock but I will listen to a bit of Kasabian, rock was better in the 60′s and 70′s anyways.

  • http://www.myspace.com/poisonousdarthfc Poisonous Dart

    My boy Danja29 wrote:
    white-people music that niggas will always love: tears for fears’ “shout”, spandau ballet’s “true”, george michael “careless whisper”, hall n oates “i can’t go for that”, and the GOAT- phil collins “in the air tonight”. and justin’s timbalake’s solo shit.

    you can’t go wrong w/ any of those.

    I add:

    You forgot about:

    Tears For Fears “Everybody Wants To Rule The World”, “Head Over Hells”
    The Police “Roxanne”, “Every Step You Take”…shit, everything really (Sting included)
    Phil Collins “Sussudio”
    Duran Duran “Reflex”
    Wham! “Everything She Wants”
    Nu Shooz “I Can’t Wait” & “Point Of No Return”
    Missing Persons “Destination Unknown”
    Nena “99 Luftbaloons”
    Dexy’s Midnight Runners “Come On Eileen”
    Berlin “No More Words”
    Hall & Oates Pick one, they got like 50 goddamn hits
    Information Society “Obsession”
    Thomas Dolby “She Blinded Me With Science”
    Robert Palmer “I Didn’t Mean To Turn You On”
    Rick Astley “Never Gonna Give You Up”

    And the list goes on!

    The 80′s were crazy, fam….Cocaine is one hell of a drug. One.

  • k0nfidence

    true shit bol. it’s just tough when white people without a GOOD taste in music or have no idea what black culture is, that’s when people’s taste in rap music gets into trouble

  • chendo

    Rapper’s love coldplay for some strange reason too. But anyhow, liking bad white music is kind of a hood thing. Blacks, Asians and Hispanics from the ghetto have an affinity for really bad white music (it’s generally top 40 stuff). As for John Mayer, I haven’t listened to him enough to form a real opinion, but ?uestlove likes him, and he generally has pretty good taste in white music, so I’m not ready to dismiss Mayer outright yet.

  • r86

    good post bol.

    hey POISONUS DART don’t forget benny and the jets…

  • Fabo

    Damn bol, thats showin em how to blog!

  • az

    music is music and it aint got shit to do with race or colour – its a matter of personal taste and is not even worth talking abbout

    listen and enjoy and shut the fuck up bitches

  • Hurricane Game

    Good blog by Byron. Steppin his game up.
    John Mayers ayte but he still dont have a name like James Blunt, Possibly the Gulliest name a white guys ever had.

  • CL

    Tears For Fears “Shout” was used by Craig G in the same-titled song in the mid 80s.

  • http://itsbeentime.blogspirit.com Tego

    ‘True’ is the shit though! End of the day, all things said and done, ‘True’ is the fucking shit!

  • derfla the hus’la

    lol@ sunday shoud have copywrighted that shit……..I should say nice post bol Iam not a rock fan tho guess I should broaden my horizones but on the real rock these days sucks bols……but seriously I never thought PM dawn as hiphop, aint these the guys puffy jackes he’s style from?.

  • My Effin’ Opinion

    Stealin’ niggaz lines is never a good look …

  • crewzta

    I am brown I not know nothing about white music.

  • baz

    don’t forget that kanye called john mayer this generations michael macdonald, which under normal circumstances would be the biggest dis handed down to someone. but to kanye thats a compliment of the highest order. don’t forget though that michael macdonald and his white boy soul had such a huge black following in the eighties he could have easily passed for a light skinned brother

  • Boner Jams 03

    Yea…we do have bad taste in white music for the most part…but i got white friends who put me on to REAL good cracka music… “as i like to call it) go check out this dude called citizen cope…he’s dope…this group called “cold war kids” got some bangin shit…i really dig tv on the radio and this dude named ray lamontagne…just to name a few…go check em out…if u like good music that is

  • SANLEANDRO510

    Fuck you asshole. Stop trying to play the race card. Grow up. If your comments were turned around, refering to black/brown/asain/other..as nigger ass niggers or wet-back ass mexicans or whatever it would be preceived as racist..but since your refering to white people, its not. Fuck you. Comments like yours keep open the gap between people.

  • nike345

    GIIME A BREAK….all of a sudden white ppl hate Coldplay jus cause blacks love them??? haha..u know coldplay are good…cracks…dont tell me their debut wasnt brilliant…..

  • DVD

    Wow, you failed to even put forth a half-assed argument. I was waiting for it, and it never appeared on the page. It was opinion without an ounce of substance. RAMBLE RAMBLE RAMBLE. Why is this your job? Why do they pay you for this? I know they’re not giving you money because they enjoy half-assed pseudo-comedy and 1337 internet speak.

  • DON’T MATTER

    I’m a white male, but some of my tastes are across the board like say, Ye’s or Jay-Z’s…

    I’m a rapper who’s favorite rapper is Joe Budden but I’m obsessed with Death Cab For Cutie, the band.

    I think now a days, alot of people are trying to stray away from the norm, the grass is always greener on the otherside type ordeal.

    I know when I sit down & write my own shit, I couldn’t been bumping rap all day, my head would go crazy, rock even’s it out…

  • amedawg00

    For black taste in white music..see the documentary Afropunk!

    Good post Bol, I’m black and love indie rock, but like others say…to each his own…

  • wow

    the general public has bad taste in music for the most part so this doesnt make sense…white and black ppl like laffy taffy, dem franchise boys, mims and yung joc….all bad music….john mayer is actually good, its just it took his preformance with black muscians to be notice by black people…real talk

    • Ramen

      John Mayer sucks.

  • Auntichrist

    SLAYER!!!! \m/

  • D4ni

    a’yo slayer is nazi bullshit!!!!!
    racist shit!!!! biatch! only good metal music is like ozzy and iron maiden!!! dick fuckin head!!!!!!!!!!

    • Ramen

      Shut the fuck up.

  • EReal

    LOL @ Sunday.

  • $outhern Boy

    slyer sucks!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

  • $outhern Boy

    slayer sucks!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

  • $outhern Boy

    slayer i mean.and mon i am drunkk

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  • http://www.paradistc.org/sardinia sardinia

    luogo grande:) nessun osservazioni!

  • grapes

    Goes both ways…LIKE A BI-SEXUAL…:D

  • K-LIllz

    John Mayer is awesome, but I hate James Blunt. Anyway to the thing bout fetishizing black music. Im white and I enjoy alot of rap. Ill tell ya i dont so much like the gangsta, drug, hoes, orientated music or songs that say N***A 2 much, though i can put up with all those. And why do latinos rappers seem to love saying n***a so much, like fat joe, when theyre European, just like us whiteys, when if a white guy sed it in a song he wud get alot of backlash. Anyway I also listen to alot of other black music like John Legend sorta thing, not just rap.

    • Ramen

      John Mayer sucks