R&B. Rythm and Blues. It is one of the musical genres of Black people. Historically, the culture has poured into the world with the music that speaks our language, our feelings, our rhythm, our blues, and our moods. The same can be said about Hip-Hop, Rock, Reggae, Gospel, Jazz, even pop music, and countless others. But the same can be said historically about how the world, and the music industry’s continuous attempt to push Black people out of Black music. Legendary R&B artist Stephanie Mills has come forward with her take on the matter, and she’s not holding back. After wowing audiences with her performance as “Dorothy” in The Wiz on Broadway in the 1970s, Stephanie Mills began to see massive success on the R&B charts. Classics like “Home”, “Never Knew Love Like This Before”, and “I Have Learned To Respect The Power Of Love” dominated and still live on. Many of Stephanie Mills’ records would live atop the Billboard charts in the #1 position.
But throughout her career, Stephanie Mills witnessed what has been a plague in the music industry. The pedestalization of White artists over Black artists, especially with R&B. Mills sat down with the ladies of TV One’s “Sister Circle” to speak on the issue. When asked by the hosts, which include fellow R&B singer Syleena Johnson, about the current state of music, immediately Stephanie Mills makes it plain. “I think they want R&B, but they don’t want it from us,” the singer said. “They want it from Adele and Justin Timberlake and those people.” Stephanie Mills then touches on the level of “beautiful” albums that are created by Black artists. In comparison, they tend to be overshadowed by their White counterparts for the most part.
This is far from the first time that the R&B Queen has spoken on and stood up for Black artists. Once, singer Sam Smith audaciously stated that did not like Michael Jackson while on a boat trip with friends, including American Idol alum Adam Lambert. It may have not only been his comment but the tonal approach and delivery in the viral vlip that set fans off. Stephanie Mills, who had a relationship with Michael Jackson in the past, did not bite her tongue. In response, Mills dragged the UK singer while saying that she was “tired” of White artists who benefit from and study Black artists, yet claim to not like the music. After taking Smith to the library for an intense reading session, she then dared the singer to respond.
Because of the way the industry has treated White artists in comparison to Blacks, R&B artists sometimes attempt to go pop. Stephanie Mills offered advice for artists to remain their true authentic selves. “Don’t let them take you from your roots,” the singer said on The Breakfast Club earlier this year. Ms. Mills went on to further explain that the labels will “use you up,” and once finished with you, will “send you back to selling chicken.”