Some of us in pop music breakthrough. Beyoncé, Michael Jackson, rappers, etc. But house music? Nope. House music is the CAPITOL of race discrimination in the music biz. It wasn’t like that at first. In the beginning, I thought it was a level playing field. But the rise of EDM saw the economic power transfer into the hands of white people because only white DJs are making EDM. The same thing happened with rock ‘n’ roll: Black artists just don’t make it today, and Black artists don’t make EDM.
Kevin Saunderson said recently “you almost feel like somebody is basically eliminating Black artists and producers from participating and being part of the scene”. I don’t know if it’s intentional or not, but it’s definitely happening at the top levels. And with the success of EDM dominating the industry, newer fans and newcomers to dance music don’t know the origins of the music, and now recognition for the Black roots of the music feels eroded to the point of no return. Festivals are now the behemoth of the events industry — pre-COVID times at least — and Black DJs are now strangely absent from the line-ups.
There seems to be a lack of receptiveness towards Black-owned institutions in dance music. And when we as Black artists get involved in white institutions, they choose to alter our art to market it towards a white audience. I’m experiencing that as we speak: I feel my music is being remixed and whitewashed to sell. The reason is a more “white” sounding dance record they feel will sell better — which is probably right. Of course, no one is better at sounding “white” than actual white artists.
I’d like a chance to expose our music unaltered and see what happens. Just play our music, undiluted and unformatted. It’s worked countless times before. There are several Black artists I’ve seen that are getting their music whitewashed and I think it’s unfair. If you put out some of the stuff in its original form it will sell if promoted, but labels want it to sound more like EDM. I think that cripples us.
Change can take place only one way: you have to allow more variety on our pop and festival playlists. I maintain, to this day, that NOBODY wants to hear only ONE style of music ALL NIGHT. With Dance music, switch it up. It’s worked before.
Marshall Jefferson is a house music legend, follow him on Twitter