Most Moving Song

The Throne — “Made In America”. I am a middle-class white person who often writes about what it means to be black. I get paid a nice amount of money for doing so. This automatically makes me reprehensible, a regular scoundrel, but you already knew that. Right now I am sitting in the lobby of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, trying my best to finish this Critics Poll write-up before Bobby Brown begins to sing and I am compelled to write another news story. Of course I am only here on the outside chance that Bobby will start saying crazy stuff about Whitney Houston. Which he is not going to do, by the way; only gossip columnists who’ve never been to a concert in their lives imagine that these things might happen. But now that I made it, I’m pretty glad I did. It was hard to get mainstream America — and yes, by that, I mean white America, and yes, by that I mean me — to accept hip-hop. It had to be added by eyedropper to candy-coated stuff like early New Edition. Little by little, chorus by chorus, we started taking black voices seriously. Everything these ’80s artists did, and that includes Bobby Brown and his wheezy voice and crummy rapping, and it certainly includes Whitney Houston, whose compromises to the mainstream audience don’t need to be repeated here, chipped away at a millstone. Yesterday at New Hope Baptist Church, T.D. Jakes (referenced on Danny Brown’s album, by the way) reminded everybody about the sacrifices Houston made by sharing her gift with a world that wasn’t well-suited to understand where she was from: Newark, not the prettiest vacation spot on the map, but as vital as any town you might want to name, and the still-beating heart of the great state of New Jersey. And on an album that is a tribute to black excellence in the face of more adversity than I have the capacity to imagine, when Jay-Z says “this is the Star-Spangled Banner,” I get choked up. I know I have no right to that lump in my throat. But it’s not going away.

Notes

  1. semipoplife posted this