I concluded my previous post with an embedded music video produced by Sean "P. Diddy" Combs, and an expression of distaste thereof. This left some commenters with the impression that my subject here was the decline of popular music, or of music in general.
Well, the video in question could certainly serve such a purpose. But, in this particular case, I was aiming for another, perhaps more consequential, target. For P. Diddy is much more than just a phenomenon of commercial music: he is representative of a pervasive cultural transformation.
Over to Hua Hsu:
"...Combs is both a product and a hero of the new cultural mainstream, which prizes diversity above all else, and whose ultimate goal is some vague notion of racial transcendence...
"...his industry lies at the heart of this new mainstream. Over the past 30 years, few changes in American culture have been as significant as the rise of hip-hop...hip-hop is more than a musical genre: it's a philosophy, a political statement, a way of approaching and remaking culture. It's a lingua franca not just among kids in America, but also among young people worldwide. And its economic impact extends beyond the music industry, to fashion, advertising, and film...
"Today, hip-hop's colonization of the global imagination, from fashion runways in Europe to dance competitions in Asia, is Disney-esque. This transformation has bred an unprecedented cultural confidence in its black originators. Whiteness is no longer a threat, or an ideal: it's kitsch..."
I'm abbreviating Hua Hsu severely, here, but not, I think unfairly, to bring into close conjunction some bits and pieces that are widely separated in his essay. Let's bring them into even closer conjunction:
"...the ultimate goal [of the new cultural mainstream] is some vague notion of racial transcendence..."
I put it to you that there is nothing the least bit "vague" about the "notion of racial transcendence" that is "the ultimate goal" of "the new cultural mainstream," as exhibited in the oeuvre of Sean "P. Diddy" Combs and his fellow "hero[s] of the new cultural mainstream."
I mean, c'mon - watch the video! And/or read the essay!
Part 2 of 3