How Did Lorde Signify the Death of “Black Cool?” Questlove Has the Answers…

Questlove is in the middle of a 6-part essay series for Vulture called “How Hip-Hop Failed Black America.” The first 2 parts were dense, challenging, and deeply thought-provoking. The 3rd installment, titled “What Happens When Black Loses Its Cool?,” is no less engaging and philosophical. Quest attempts to define and deconstruct the notion of “Black Cool” at the same time, all while explaining why it is all but dead. Take a look at a couple of excerpts below, as well as a link to the full article. Whether you agree or disagree, it is definitely worth the read.

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Here are some excerpts from the article:

“Can I start this essay by asking a rhetorical question? Have you heard of black cool? It used to be something ineffable but indisputable. Certain African-American cultural figures — in music, in movies, in sports — rose above what was manifestly a divided, unjust society and in the process managed to seem singularly unruffled. They kept themselves together by holding themselves slightly apart, maintaining an air of inscrutability, of not quite being known. They were cool.

Who did this idea adhere to? People are welcome to make lists of their own, but there are some examples that we can all agree upon. Miles Davis was cool. Betty Davis was. Muhammad Ali was cool, and Richard Pryor was, and Lena Horne, and Billie Holiday, and Jimi Hendrix, and Sly Stone, and Angela Davis, and Prince. Early hip-hop had several contenders for cool, from Run-DMC to Public Enemy. And black cool, when it comes right down to it, is everyone’s cool. The baseline of the concept, in vernacular terms, in historical terms, is black. Black is the gold standard for cool, and you don’t need to look any further than the coolest thing of the last century, rock and roll, to see the ways in which white culture clearly sensed that the road to cool involved borrowing from black culture. But black cool is at a crossroads, unless it’s at the end of the road. The dynamics that historically produced black cool within the American landscape have shifted, allowing some things to be pushed to the side and others to fall through the cracks.

You can tell something’s missing when you see people trying to find it…”

Read the full article at Vulture.

Related: Think Hip-Hop Has Grown Too Materialistic? Questlove Does Too. Here’s Why.