Jump to content

Does colorism exist in music?

Sweet Sexy Savage

Recommended Posts




‘Mary J Blige’ and ‘Lauryn Hill’ were/are, arguably, the last “Dark-Skinned” Black Women to have seen significant mainstream success over the last 20-25 years. (To a lesser extent, there was also ‘Erykah Badu, Macy Gray, Jill Scott and Kelly Rowland’).


There closest peers in terms of shade ie. Ashanti, Ciara etc. were still, at least, 0.5-1x lighter. 

To this day, nobody can tell me that colorism isn’t what allowed Alicia Keys to succeed over India Arie, both of whom debuted at the exact same time and in the same year. Yes, Keys is exceptionally talented (and her success is deserving) but her image was far more “alluring” to the masses as a lighter-skinned, mixed/Black woman wearing cornrows, as opposed to Arie’s more traditional & Afro-centric attire and persona and darker skin, and Clive Davis/her label used that to sell her as well as the fact that she was a “classical pianist”. 

Ironically, they both performed on the Oprah show together and Arie received a much greater reception but she didn’t receive the same radio push as Keys thereafter.


Arie has never spoken about it outright (I’ve no idea why) but her ex-manager said in an interview with Essence magazine that he was told by certain A&R people around the time of Arie’s debut that “there were newer Soul artists with a ‘softer’ look who could be easily embraced by more people” (codeword: White) compared to Arie and they could’ve only been speaking about Alicia Keys. 

As much as I love them, both Beyonce and Rihanna massively succeeded due to their skin tones too.



Edited by GoodGuyGoneGhetto
Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes sadly. Beyoncé and Rihanna would not be as big as they are if they were dark skinned.


I do think colorism is more of a problem for females though, in both music and acting.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Colorism exists in people. People consume music. Of course their colorism will be reflected in the music they consume, especially for women. People support pop stars who they can identify with and want to emulate so they will almost always be:


  • light-skinned blacks
  • whites
  • mixed race nonwhites that look ambiguous 
Link to post
Share on other sites
Soda Pop Queen

It exists at every level of society. Centuries of anti-black/anti-dark skin brainwashing has made it so.

Edited by Soda Pop Queen
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Create New...