Last week Pharrell Williams' hit "Happy" became the first song by a black artist since December of 2012 to reach #1 Billboard's Hot 100. Then, it was Rihanna's "Diamonds" that went #1. Since, even African-American powerhouses like Beyonce and Johnny Legend reached the top 5 without ever hitting #1.
Is The Music Industry Racist?
On the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, white artists were also on top 44 out of 52 weeks in 2013.
A similar white streak extends to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, where in 2014 the only black inductee was the late Clarence Clemmons, listed as Springsteen's sideman.
"...There’s no willful racism or systematic exclusion happening, neither in the Rock Hall nor on the charts," argues Slate's Chris Molanphy, "the populace is naturally drifting away from African-Americans after decades of regarding them as the avatars of cutting-edge popular music.
But some, like Kayne West, see racism throughout the industry. "I’m 36 years old and I have 21 Grammys - that’s the most Grammys of any 36-year-old," said West after last year's awards ceremony. "Out of all of those 21 Grammys, I’ve never won a Grammy against a white artist."