Black Love and the 90s
So this week we had the double joy that was #BabyfaceVsTeddyRiley and it breathed new life into us. First attempts just showed us how hard it is to sort out technical difficulties. Bless Uncle Teddy and his hype man. The second just highlighted the Shadyface at his best. But for me it evoked memories. It reminded me of what was so delicious about Black Love and the 90s.
I first fell in Love in the 90s. If I had known then that it was the best I was ever going to get I may have tried harder to hold onto it. He looked like a Joe and waxed liberally about world politics and black lives before hashtags existed. This was before internet and mobile phones as the norm so long distance meant writing snail mails. Harder to sustain. Besides the energy was different then, and it came at us from every angle so we bathed in the abundance of it all.
Not a popular view and certainly not one that the liberal left agree with but, black love has become something that many aspire for. It’s about reminding ourselves that whilst before it was through necessity and discrimination, it’s now a choice. To be clear the current interracial narrative is fine and suits many people; it’s just not for everyone. We need to be able to see black love stories as much if not more than interracial love stories. Ignorance aside dating is political , sociological, spiritual. and so entrenched in identity that for many race is as key as sexuality.
So let’s look at what the 90s gifted us:
From New Jack Swing, RnB and Neo Soul to more mainstream genres black stars were more visible in the 90s. It wasn’t just the Jacksons, Whitney and Prince. We have a lot of artists to enjoy. The UK also saw the influence of more reggae and ragga stars. We even had our own Lovers Rock, Jungle and Soul sound. Many had to compromise on their artistic integrity to make it and it was the era of terrible artist contracts but, as the audience, we saw them and celebrated.
This was still the time when your sibling or parent would shout at you to come downstairs as there were black folk on TV. My stair running game is still boss from these years of practise. We hungered for it and would sit in our rooms and listen to our cassettes of radio recorded songs. Not since our parents eras had black love been so prevalent in music.
In the 80s there weren’t many men to fancy. Michael Jackson and Prince were too mainstream. It was a tough time to have a crush as a kid or teen as there just weren’t that many options especially in Black Britain. Sure there was Cockroach and Theo Huxtable but in the UK we didn’t have access to all those other shows. But then suddenly the media took notice and we had male models like Tyson Beckford. Black American singers were on Top of the Pops regularly ( I remember Juicy, A Tribe Called Quest and Wrecks N Effect) and then we had an increase in Black footballers. It was a heady hormonal time.
Before Black Girl Magic there was just black magic .and the 90s were a magical time for us as we saw ourselves on TV, Movies and starting to make real moves in industries. It is a very American narrative in the main but even Black Britain has snippets of joy through music, film and TV (Real McCoy stands out.) This was a golden time for black Americans from rap and sports black magic was more visible.