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The term ‘world music’ is outdated and offensive

Been a HUGE hater of the term “World Music” for some time now. Always found it offensive, discriminatory, patronizing, belittling and totally colonialist.

I always CRINGE whenever I hear it being said or see it mentioned somewhere!  I even wanted to turn down an award we received a few years back because it mentioned the term “World Music” but I didn’t have the heart to deprive my partner of that glory!

I’ve had many rants about the term over the years.  I wish I would have catalogued them all but here’s a “mild” throw-away statement I have managed to resurrect from my FB page that I had posted earlier this year:

“World Music to me is a Colonial term. It represents to me all that is wrong and bad in this world. It represents a f****d up mind-set. It says to me that non-western music is not worthy of a title like Rock or Hip Hop or Jazz and you know why? Cause the mindset that came up with that term were still living on colonial time and they didn’t feel that Rai, Gnawa, Bachata, Salsa etc etc were worthy of being a 1st class citizen like Rock, Jazz, etc etc. They felt that these genres were inferior and so they bracketed all music from such countries in an umbrella term and called it World Music. Apart from that f****d up colonial mindset, what does world music mean? To me it means Madonna, Rihanna, U2, Coldplay as well as Fela, Khaled etc etc, that is all world music. All music is from this World, so it is World music. It’s a term that makes no sense, cause it was invented by nonsense people! People trying to continue a colonial empire!’”

So I was extremely chuffed to read this pretty cool article by Ian Birrell in The Guardian today dating back to March of this year. I couldn’t agree with it more!

The term ‘world music’ is outdated and offensive – Ian Birrell – The Guardian

And here below is what the bastion of “World Music” –  SONGLINES had to say about it.

I have been subscribing to Songlines for a few years now cause its content isn’t too bad when I want to be filled in with new releases from the more Rootsy side of stuff from all around the world.  However, it’s totally useless for anything dance related and is very narrow-minded in this respect.  Hence, why we set up Generation Bass!

In fact, inspite of some of its merits, it does come across as a mag full of middle-class, middle-aged people who are so out of touch with what’s going down in the urban centres of the world today with a huge allergy towards anything fusing Transnational Roots (my preferred name for “World Music”) with Electronica!

The fact that they use to call their magazine “World Music”, and they still do use that same term in many of their features, demonstrates just how out of touch they really are with some things.

If you don’t have an open mind, how can you write about music from all around the world, never quite understood that.  Fact is they don’t write about “all” music from around the world, they just focus on Transnational Roots music and sadly they rubbish anything with an electronic pulse!

‘World Music’ – An Outdated or Necessary Term?

‘World Music’ – The debate continues

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