The issue colorism is a sensitive topic that has once again surfaced in the hip hop industry. Recently, Tory Lanez has spoken out on the subject following what he claims was a discriminatory move he witnessed while on the set Nafe Smallz’s music video. In a clip that went viral, Lanez was shooting a scene with a dark-skinned model when she was replaced with a lighter-skinned model.
While the moment has sparked a debate on social media in regards to the validity the incident, it’s also created a dialogue about colorism in the media—more specifically, within hip hop culture. Mathew Knowles, father to Beyoncé and Solange, sat down with Clay Cane on SiriusXM Urban View on Tuesday and their chat included just that subject.
Knowles was once the head honcho when it came to Destiny’s Child, and as their manager, he was instrumental in shaping the careers the superstar girl group. During his discussion with Cane, the host shared that his Texas Southern University students did a study that showed in a 15-year period, Top 40 airplay artists who were black women were all lighter-skinned. This list included Alicia Keys, Nicki Minaj, Rihanna, Mariah Carey, and Beyoncé.
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“In the music industry, there’s still segregation, as you know,” Knowles said. “There used to be the black division, race records and programmers, especially at pop radio, has this imagery what beauty looks like. They wanted that imagery to be the same that’s singing those records. If you look back, even like Whitney Houston, if you look at those photos, how they lighten her to make her look lighter complexion because there’s a perception in colorism…the lighter you are the smarter, the more economically… all around the world about color, even with black folks, there’s a perception.”
“How different do you think Beyoncé’s career would have been if she were a darker skinned woman?” Cane asked.
“I think it would have affected her success. I use Kelly Rowland as] a great example,” Knowles responded. “The great thing is Kelly did exceptional outside America, especially in Australia. Kelly sold over 4 million records.”