Appreciation or Appropriation? A K-Pop Conundrum

A Black novice stan’s take

Cynthia Dagnal-Myron
Fan Gran

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RAIN and JYP — celebration or appropriation? (YouTube)

This recent Stevie Wonder tribute is one of the reasons I love K-Pop:

It features iconic riffs from many of Wonder’s most beloved songs and a haunting harmonica solo that reminded me of seeing “Little” Stevie Wonder at the Regal Theater in Chicago, where he and all the best R & B performers rocked the house back when I was a kid.

They mention “Stevie” in the lyrics too, after an opening rap about their old friends “soul and R&B.” And while those simple name checks may seem insignificant to most K-Pop fans, I breathed a heavy sigh of relief when I heard them.

Because whether by design or just out of a heartfelt love of the music and musicians they celebrate so often, the funkiest band in the business had done what too many artists starting ‘way back with Elvis have forgotten or downright refused to do: give props to the source of the sound.

I shouldn’t have been too worried. There’s footage of Mark Lee gleefully celebrating the diversity of the audiences…

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Cynthia Dagnal-Myron
Fan Gran

Award-winning former features reporter for the Chicago Sun Times and Arizona Daily Star, HuffPo contributor and author.