It’s an occurrence that happens quite often. You’re at the function. Hell, you could be cruising around in your car to the radio. All of a sudden, you hear a “fresh” R&B or Hip-Hop track and you’re DYING to know who it is. You hit up your home girl, Google, and in this day and age, you’ll be more than likely subjectively surprised or confused by who is behind said voice. I’m here to chat about how none of that is HONESTLY surprising anymore. Cultural Appropriation, according to Cambridge Dictionary, is defined as “the act of taking or using things from a culture that is not your own, especially without showing that you understand or respect this culture.” In my opinion, there’s a definitive line between appropriation and appreciation: CREDIT. In this series, I’ll explore several of Music’s household names and apply the “SNATCH’D BLACK” critical gaze. My first subject in this article was genuinely one of my faves. I was raised on his music and his voice is incredibly divine. However, the more that I grew, the more I developed skepticism of his overall platform. With that being said, let’s get “SNATCH’D BLACK” with Justin Timberlake.
Let’s get into it. Timberlake has been in the industry for such a long time. His stint on the Mickey Mouse Club was his launching pad into boy band stardom. If we’re being honest, *NSYNC had bops. We can debate about it all day but *NSYNC had the RANGE. They also had a discrete “secret weapon” per se when it came to Justin Timberlake. Their self-titled album was relatively safe when it came to giving us the Pop version of the R&B genre. The Public loved them. *NSYNC was the PG version New Edition that white culture could actually Stan in peace. It was when Timberlake actually became the front-runner of the group that you started to see the shift. Cornrows and twist-outs galore! A lot of the competing acts were on this wave (and one day, we’ll properly dive into all of them). Eventually, Timberlake made his rather unsurprising transition to his solo career.
The “JUSTIFIED” era of Justin’s music career provides the crucial tea of what his entire empire would ultimately become. As an 11-year-old girl listening to him, I was so naively impressed by the entire album. The actual magic relied in the overall production of “JUSTIFIED.” N.E.R.D. and Timbaland gave him the most ill launching pad into vague R&B stardom.
This is also around the time that we entered the “Super Bowl” scandal that secured his spot in notoriety. However, I also will call it for what it is: He was and is still a coward for how he handled that situation. You would think that an artist who praises Michael Jackson so much would issue some sort of apology to his equally as talented, legendary younger sister, right? Not. At. All. It also doesn’t make it any better that Justin was featured on Michael Jackson’s posthumous track after his passing. As a black woman, I can say that Justin will forever leave a bad taste in my mouth for that. He knows better, but doesn’t know how to do better.
I would love to take the time to dissect every album that he’s dropped. I’m not going to, though. His discography tells the same story each and every time. He loves black culture. He’s clearly a student of Bobby Brown (debate your Mother if you disagree or get into his visuals for reference). However, I am interested in his new “direction” so to speak. If you haven’t heard, our good ‘ol Justin has had a change of heart. Better yet, he’s officially the “Man of the Woods” now or whatever. His first single, “FILTHY”, is an EDM track that doesn’t particularly match his intended creative direction. We’re going to see Justin in the “Country” spectrum and I am somewhat weary of what that’ll be. The project drops soon. He will also be performing (again) at this year’s Super Bowl. I only want two things from Justin Timberlake at this point. Honesty and Accountability. I hope that I can listen to this new album and actually acquire authenticity. I would also hope that he’d use his platform at the Super Bowl for gaslighting the unfair, disgusting public dismantling of Janet Jackson’s career. However, I also know that I would luck out more by holding my breath. #SNATCHDBLACK
Written by Court Kim