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‘Just Because You Sing Black Music Doesn’t Mean You Know Black Culture’: India.Arie Slams Jack Harlow for Making ‘Black Music’ But Failing to Recognize the Difference Between the Iconic Voices of Brandy and Aaliyah

India.Arie is not backing down from calling out cultural appropriation in the music industry. 

The Grammy award-winning artist unloaded her displeasure after rapper Jack Harlow admitted he had no idea Brandy and Ray J were siblings. Harlow’s ignorance of the family ties was made worse when he failed to recognize the singer’s vocals while testing his musical wit during an interview with Hot 97’s Ebro Darden and Co. 

Just Because You Sing Black Music Doesn?t Mean You Know Black Culture?: India.Arie Slams Jack Harlow for Making 'Black Music' But Failing to?Recognize?the Difference Between the Iconic Voices of Brandy and Aaliyah
India.Arie and Jack Harlow. (Photos: @Indiaarie/Instagram, @Jackharlow/Instagram)

Harlow was stumped by more than once by R&B songs during the game, including by Brandy’s popular record “Angel in Disguise.” Unfamiliar with the vocals, Harlow asked if the singer was the late Aaliyah. Ebro thinking he was giving Harlow the perfect clue then referenced Ray J’s sex tape. Still stumped, Harlow had to be informed of the familial relation. 

“Brandy and Ray J are siblings? Nobody’s ever told me that in my life,” said the “What’s Poppin” rapper on May 11. “Nobody’s ever told me that. Y’all got a good clip off that one. Ray J and Brandy are siblings? I had no idea, bruh.”

Annoyed by the short segment of the interview, Arie took to her Instagram Story where she unleashed her thoughts. “Just because you make Black music doesnt mean you know black culture,” she began. “If U dont know Brandys voice when you hear it …. WHO EVEN ARE YOU? When an ACTUAL MUSICIAN! WHO MAKES BLACK MUSIC! Deduces ones of the industries MOST IMPORTANT VOICES! @brandy To Ray Jays SISTER who is famous (mostly) for his Proximity to Kim Kardashians.”

She continued, “And WE HEAR @brandy Influence Eh-VER-REE-WHERE! PLENTY of Non Black signers. (Ask them) Even MALE singers. Gospel singers. AND PEOPLE KNOW RAY J BETTER? the sh–s STUPID. STUPID. STUPID. STUPID!”

“The Truth” singer’s stance was not understood by everyone. Some felt Arie blew the situation out of proportion writing on social, “It’s not that serious,” and “Girl, it’s not that deep.”

Others, however, sided with Arie. “I agree with her entirely! My thoughts when I saw that clip,” and “We invited everyone to our “cookout” so what India saying will go over  most people heads.” Seeing how her words had sparked several blog posts and social media posts, Arie doubled down on her stance, as well as provided additional context to since expired Instagram Story. 

“Let’s clear this up now! Cause I said what I said,” began the “I Am Not My Hair” songstress on May 13. “My comments are about how racist the music industry is based on EVERYTHING I see here.”

“I know a lot of y’all don’t get it. AND isn’t it INTERESTING every time I speak on a white boy or a white institution y’all print it,” she continued. “WHICH PROVES MY POINT. AND YOU DIDN’T EVEN PRINT EVERYTHING I SAID BEFORE THESE COMMENTS. DON’T @ me about this sh-t anymore cause IDC. I said what i said and I’m done.”

The singer further reiterated her perspective when addressing the social chatter under a Shade Room post. In short, Arie says her full comment spoke directly to “institutionalized cultural appropriation in the music industry.” In this instance, Harlow fit the bill of her frustrations. 

Still, Arie’s thoughts continued to cause a divide on social where some individuals doubled down on cutting Harlow some slack, and others not so much. “It’s not that he didn’t know they were siblings, it’s the fact he ain’t know it was BRANDY!! #culturevulture”

“Y’all acting like Jack isn’t 24. He was just born when the song that’s playing came out.”

“When you don’t really KNOW the culture. You just like what it looks and sounds like…”

“He’s a white boy that didn’t grow up on Moesha or Rnb. Why would ya expect him to know…it’s not his culture.”

Earlier in the year Arie found herself in the crossfire of social criticism when she spoke out against Joe Rogan. In resurfaced footage the podcaster seen using the N-word. Arie took issue with artists receiving small payouts for music played on Spotify whereas Rogan, who hosts his podcast on the streaming platform, has a multimillion dollar contract allowing him to speak insensitively about race.

Rogan would later apologize to Arie’s satisfaction; though her acceptance of the apology sparked a different outrage from her fans. “He said a lot of the things I would want to hear someone say. The thing that stuck out for me most was when he said, ‘It’s not my word to use.’ And I think changed behavior is what we’re really looking for.” 

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