MJ and P came up in the 80’s. I’m sure many of you who know your history know that IN THE 80’s, MTV execs were absolutely reluctant to air the video for the obvious hit “Billie Jean”. It wasn’t because Billie Jean was a difficult-to-sell visual. We know it was because MTV did not want to promote music that featured a Black artist. After much negotiation, they aired the video. It shot to the top of the charts. And let’s not be naive to think that part of the reason that Prince had such a laborious rise to the top was because White America was still very much afraid of Black male sexuality (which also explains why MJ was an easier pill to swallow as his sexuality was not publicly expressed, let alone worn on his sleeve). His first album was sexually-charged, but so clearly R&B that it wasn’t heavily recognized in more mainstream white genres. Prince had some hits, but many didn’t know how to place the young musical prodigy after his appearance with Dick Clark. Then comes Dirty Mind. Then comes live performances covered by the white mainstream. Then comes Rolling Stones band member confused that their audience expressed hate for Prince’s opening act.
Beyonce came up in the late 90’s. She was a Black woman in a girl group (a proven formula—think TLC, The Supremes) who then branched out to solo success in the early 2000s. She had very commercial appeal and was meticulous about her public image. She had learned from her many predecessors. She learned from their mistakes, and strove to avoid those pitfalls. Her success was a direct result of the meticulous efforts of her and her team. Her demographic as a Black woman is also different from MJ and Prince. A woman’s sexuality (especially to please a male gaze) is socially acceptable. And let’s not forget that Beyonce came onto the world stage after the youth of White America shocked the world with their eager consumption of so-called gangsta rap music that chronicled some of the more sinister aspects of life in Black neighborhoods.
When we complain that Beyonce has more Grammys, we discount the fact that the racial climate in America is constantly changing. Prince has less than 10 Grammys, Michael has less than 15. But how many Grammys were awarded to Black artists between 1978 and 1995?
Why are people so quick to compare Black artists? Black women to Black men? Black men to each other? I don’t see people comparing The Beatles to The Rolling Stones, or Madonna to Dolly Parton!
Whatever. I digress. Let everyone be great.
Get into my intellectual posts tho