The “Cross Over” Phenomenon
I am an avid lover of music and the performing arts in general. I have always enjoyed researching about how everything works within the entertainment industry. One term that has always left a bad taste in my mouth has always been “cross-over” as I found it to introduce an element of race into something that should not be racially driven.
I believe that music and art in general is universal. I have, however realised that race and sexuality are some of the things that we as humans obsess over and I have learned to deal with it. In dealing with it, I decided to rationalise it in order for it not to annoy me as much.
Somehow I found Nkalakatha racist. Not the song per se but the fact that the White community in South Africa shoved that song down our throats as the greatest Kwaito song ever. It just showed me how uninterested in our music they are. How they expect us to dance to that song at every corporate function withstanding the fact that all the Black people I know find that song completely annoying. But I do digress as that is not really what I want to write about.
What I want to discuss is how the concept of “crossing over” in South Africa doesn’t make sense to me. In the United States, Black people only form 13% of the population and therefore I understand when Black artists try and appeal to the White community which is around 74% of the overall population. It makes sense that the only people that thrive are those that have managed to “cross over”. Hence why your Rihanna’s and Beyonce’s will feature artists like Britney Spears and Lady Gaga on their albums. It explains why Black Actors/Actresses have to star in “white” movies in order to gain recognition in the form of Golden Globes and Oscars.
In South Africa it should be a different story altogether. In this country Black people form almost 80% of the population and White people are about 9% of the population but our definition of crossing over still means appealing to the white audience. Yes, I am aware of the fact that White people in this country still control the economy but in terms of consumer expenditure Black people are the main contributors. It makes no sense to me that advertisers and corporate pour more money into stations like 5fm and other “White” radio stations. It makes no sense that most of the sponsorships go to 5fm DJ’s. It makes no sense that “White” musicians get all the great car sponsorships whilst our Black artists get all the brands that are still trying to establish themselves in this country. I see more Black people in Audi’s more than White people but the only Black artist that I know in a sponsored proper Audi is Lira besides the A1’s that were recently given out.
Black people love themselves some VW but the only artists driven by VW are the Parlotones. We consume way more alcohol than any other race in this country but it is still difficult to obtain proper sponsorship for events than it is for White people in this country. All of our young and talented DJ’s dream of ending up on 5fm because of the perks that come with it. Why is the corporate industry in this country so keen in investing in the minority instead of the majority of its consumer base? Is a remnant of Apartheid still thriving in the entertainment industry? This is just my observation as a member of the public and someone in entertainment, I could be wrong.
By Mablerh ©