Dirty Money’s Kalenna Speaks on Racism in Music Industry

Dirty Money’s Kalenna Speaks on Racism in Music Industry

Published March 14, 2011

In an recent interview with “Scene and Heard TV,” Diddy-Dirty Money member and songwriter Kaleena Harper talked about the difficulties she faced breaking into the music industry due to her skin tone.  Harper says she started off in the business as a solo artist, but ran into numerous problems.

She explained: “[I was] just coming up against obstacles: They was like, ‘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?”

In response to that, Kaleena said she took inspiration from artists like Missy Elliott, R. Kelly and Keith Sweat and used songwriting as a means of success.  She went on to note that with her complexion being darker than that of many of her peers, it was hard not to be reminded of the struggles she faced.  She recalled: “The way they made it seem was, 'You black as night girl, you crispy, burnt black, and that’s just not marketable right now.' And it wasn’t at the time, to be totally honest with you."

It’s stories like these that make you want to slap a bunch of random executives with a brown paper bag.  Lauryn Hill’s complexion isn’t all that far removed from Kaleena’s and how many records has she sold? How many Grammys did she win? How many mainstream magazine covers did she grace? How many singers have people clamoring for their return after an entire decade of no new releases?


Photo:  Jemal Countess/Getty Images

Written by Michael Arceneaux


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