Music is something that can supersede language. The best part about having ears is that all sound is interpreted in the same process. Different types and genres of music stem from all different cultures, but should that mean they are limited to being only created within those circles? Cultural appropriation is an act of adopting elements from a culture different to one’s own, and this can become controversial when the adopter is taking from a minority culture, or without having a proper understanding and respect for the original culture, and context. This is where many artists have fallen victim to criticism, and rightly so.
Personally, I don’t think there is a problem with adopting traits of other cultures music and incorporating them into one’s own music. Irish people hit the nail on the head with the fiddle, African drums have a rich and unique sound, a Didgeridoo sounds like nothing else, and the sitar is a beautifully melodic Indian instrument. All of these should have opportunity to be shared among cultures and used to create new and exciting sounds – AS LONG AS it is done respectfully and with care for traditional values. This value of respect should exist not only with physical instruments, but also with vocal styles and especially artists’ image.
Recently the music industry has seen a boom in popularity for Rap and Hip-Hop genres, including the introduction of the grime genre – a UK based underground, gritty rap style brought into light by rappers such as Stomzy and Skepta.
The problem that arises with rap is that many of the big artists are of African American descent, which means they may have been subject to oppression, in their lives, or in their ancestors lives. Some rappers see their resulting behaviour as part of an image that they can adopt, such as the Australian rapper Iggy Azalea, who began to adopt many traits characteristic of their culture. Controversy arose in 2015-2016 amid the #BlackLivesMatter movement, in which Iggy kept quiet throughout and didn’t really make comment on.
Respect has a major part to play when it comes to borrowing ideas from other cultures. It is of paramount importance that, if you want to adopt a trait, that you understand the meaning behind it, and that it is deemed appropriate by people of that culture. Once again hybridisation comes to light, as appropriating these traits can also be seen as a form of hybridisation.