Although Miley Cyrus and Nicki Minaj—through their “incident” at the VMAs—have become the two poles of a wider-ranging cultural debate about appropriation and the erasure of black voices in pop culture, Grace Jones has equally critical things to say about them.
An excerpt from the 67-year-old Jamaican-born musician’s upcoming memoir, “I’ll Never Write My Memoirs,” was published in Time Out London before being withdrawn yesterday (the full excerpt will appear in Time Out London’s September 15 issue and subsequently be reposted on the website), but not before publications like The Guardian and Essence spotted a few incendiary quotes. The trailblazing, if underrated, musician called out contemporary pop culture superstars like Miley Cyrus, Nicki Minaj and Rihanna for essentially copping her style without paying proper due, as well as for not being strategic about their careers [quotes taken from both the Guardian and Essence pieces]:
Trends come along and people say, “Follow that trend.” There’s a lot of that around at the moment…. “Be like Sasha Fierce. Be like Miley Cyrus. Be like Rihanna. Be like Lady Gaga. Be like Rita Ora and Sia. Be like Madonna.” I cannot be like them—except to the extent that they are already being like me.
The problem with the Dorises and the Nicki Minajes and Mileys is that they reach their goal very quickly. There is no long-term vision, and they forget that once you get into that whirlpool then you have to fight the system that solidifies around you in order to keep being the outsider you claim you represent…. Every singer given a makeover or a few weeks on a talent show seems to be called a diva these days! Christ almighty. Where’s the exclusivity? It’s so commercial now.
The aforementioned “Doris” is a pseudonymn for an unnamed pop star, speculated to be Lady Gaga, who Jones claims industry people wanted Jones to collaborate with:
With this one, who I will call Doris, I thought she was trying on other people’s outfits: she’s a baby in a closet full of other people’s clothes, a little girl playing dress-up, putting on shoes that don’t fit. …
Everyone around me is going: “You have to do it, it will be so good for you, it will introduce you to a whole new audience, you will make a lot of money.”
No! It will be good for her; she will draw from everything I have built and add it to her brand, and I will get nothing back except for a little temporary attention.
“I’ll Never Write My Memoirs” is published by Simon & Schuster and hits shelves on September 24.