Color-Coded: Is the Music Industry Playing an Unfair Game

Where’s the love for the dark-skinned sisters?

Posted: 06/06/2011 05:30 PM EDT
Filed Under Kelly Rowland, Rihanna

Has the music industry turned its back on the beautiful brown girls? It’s a relevant question given today’s music charts. Once upon a time the Billboard charts were filled with many shades of African-American woman, but today if you look you’d be hard pressed to find such diversity in today’s market.

Kaleena Harper, of Diddy-Dirty Money fame, was quite candid last year on her struggles of being a darker-skinned sister in the game:

“They was like, you know, ‘you too black,’ or ‘you’re not marketable.’ Whatever they came up with in their minds to say that I wasn’t artist material, you know.”


Other artists like the UK songstress Estelle has also vocalized her struggles trying to break into the mainstream. There’s a rumor Estelle had to pack up and leave her hometown because there were lesser opportunities to advance being of a darker skin tone.

Atlanta newcomer Asia Bryant, who’s got a smash single in Atlanta that’s burning up the streets called “If You Love Me”, has also shared with me her struggles to get attention from the majors.

With the success of artists like Rihanna, Beyoncé — and a handful of others in the competitive digital music era—there’s a notion that light-skin is deemed better, easier and downright more marketable than that of the their darker-skinned counterparts. And that notion doesn’t just extend to music—it’s all around us.

With such diversity in today’s world—and with so many dark women’s self-esteem being flushed down the toilet—it’s a wonder why labels wouldn’t market woman in music who look like other more identifiable women? For every light-skinned woman, there’s a dark-skinned lady seeking the same visual acceptance from the world. But they aren’t given a fair chance.

In keeping it real—like you know I always do—today’s record labels have a sleuth of fair-skinned artists on their rosters that still can’t manage to drum up impressive records sales. Yet there are still other talented artists of a darker complexion who are being overlooked. 

Just ask Kelly Rowland. If you didn’t notice, the former Destiny Child’s member has the No. 1 R&B song in the country. She’s a dark-skinned woman, how about that. But where's the hoopla? Don't you think she deserves a little more attention for the feat? Hhhmmm.

(Photo: David Livingston/Getty Images)

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