We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.
Overheard thoughts from D.C. white musicians on black musicians: “Rap music is just, ‘No, I’m the better rapper! No, I’m the better rapper’”; “Go-go bands will never do a benefit show. They are impossible to deal with.” Even grosser is black-owned BET’s recent spring-break feature: the Polympics, in which two contestants race to see who can make a better batch of Kool-Aid. These sentiments and stereotypes represent the way we view much of our culture, local and otherwise. In D.C., there are de facto black nights and white nights at clubs. Go-go music, our own sound, can be seen and heard only along the city’s margins. We’re missing out on collaboration—a Debbie Harry-tipping-her-hat-to-Grandmaster Flash moment, a strong indie hiphop label like Def Jux that actually pays its musicians well. We need to drop the idea that when you can dance depends on your race. In a collection of essays titled Rhythm and Business: The Political Economy of Black Music, editor Norman Kelley (pictured), Chuck D, and others lay out the ongoing stereotyping, marginalizing, and profiteering of black culture by white and black executives. (At least we can get together on something.) How weird is that? Not weird at all. Just look at Chocolate City. Tonight’s panel will use Kelley’s book as a starting point to discuss “Independent Music and Alternatives to Corporate Control.” Participants will include EU’s Sugar Bear, go-go manager Doug Carter, DJ Rudy from KYS-FM, Fugazi’s Ian MacKaye, Michael Bracy of the Future of Music Coalition, and Kelley. It will be moderated by publisher and Girls Against Boys rocker Johnny Temple. Discussion begins at 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 24, at Politics and Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW. Free. (202) 364-1919. (Jason Cherkis)