Let me start by saying I like Justin Timberlake. I’m not so much a fan as I am somebody that appreciates his music, and I liked the fact that while recording his first album, he wanted to distance himself from the Pop sound/music that he made with Insync. I like that he seems like he would be a cool person to get drunk and hangout with, and I also like that he seems to not take himself too seriously i.e. his Saturday Night Live appearances.
Now, despite all the things that I like about Justin Timberlake, I am not ready to consider him one of “us.” Despite the obvious reason, there is something about him that just makes it hard for me to fully accept him. I alluded to before I liked all his albums, including his new album The 20/20 Experience, which I think is one of the best R&B albums of the year, so far. It doesn’t make me want to change religions, but it is a solid album.
I like the fact that he is able to make soul music that appeals to many ears, and while he is no Jon B or Robin Thicke, I think that his brand of blue eyed soul is the closest you’ll hear to soul being played on mainstream nowadays – especially compared to what is considered R&B these days. That’s not a knock on him, it’s not his fault that today’s R&B singers are really rappers masquerading as singers, or the fact that every song sounds liked it’s been gene spliced from the previous song. No, like I said I think he actually makes soul music and should be commended for it, it’s just easier to stand out if you are a hooker in church.
There was something that I couldn’t put my finger on, and after a post on Facebook from a friend of mine a few weeks ago about why she isn’t completely sold on JT (either), it started to make sense. As silly as it may sound, I don’t think that JT is fully down for the cause.
The reason why I say this is because I think JT enjoys the comfort of our support and collaborations with our artists, but then at the end of the day he goes home which is on the other side of the tracks. Basically he is good enough to hang with us end exploit our culture when it is convenient for him, but then retreats back to familiar surroundings when it’s not.
One of the reasons why we love Jon B and Robin Thicke – besides the fact that they make soul music – is they appear to be genuinely invested in our culture without seeming to try too hard, sometimes better than some of us and are proud of it. From their black wives, mixed children and the fact that they seem like people who are so in tuned to the “black” experience without trying to be one of us, I’m sure you’d be able to find them at the family cookout playing spades and dominoes and talking shit with you.
I know we supposedly live in post racial times where interracial dating is at an all time high, and I also know that who you date or are married to does not define you as a person or determine just how “down” you are. But still, I can’t help but think that if JT wasn’t getting money with us we probably wouldn’t see this much of him.
What do you think? Am I being unreasonable in basing JT’s level of “downess” off of who he is engaged to? Or do you agree with me?
Talk to me, I’ll talk back.