Lifestyle & Entertainment

3 Unexpected Tributes To Black Music Icons

The legacies of true music icons tend to be fairly secure. Sure, we might debate one artist versus another now and then (just as we do with athletes), but the music world is not about to forget any of its greatest contributors. As memorable as these figures are though, and as much of a lasting impact as their music has, we do still see some bizarre standalone tributes now and then that can make them even harder to stop thinking about.

The following are three unexpected but enjoyable tributes to musical icons from the black community.

1. Tupac Shakur’s Hologram Show

When Tupac Shakur performed from the afterlife at Coachella, it inspired all kinds of opinions. Some people thought it was a sensational, groundbreaking tribute to an artist gone too soon. Others thought it was inappropriate, or even, in a strange way, an invasion of the artist’s privacy. And still others used the event to resurrect the same old Tupac-never-died conspiracy theory.

What’s clear now though is that the legacy of the show lived on. It’s talked about fairly frequently, and it’s inspired similar efforts revolving around other artists. Whatever anyone’s feelings might be about the ethical dilemma of a posthumous hologram show, one thing can’t really be debated: Tupac’s name has been brought up more since the hologram show than it likely would have otherwise. It’s a perfect example of an unorthodox tribute that wasn’t needed, because the artist at hand is a legend — but which also elevated him even more among certain audiences.

2. Jimi Hendrix’s Slot Arcade

This one may have been even more unexpected than the hologram show. Among the online casino games that are played all around the world, games designed by the developer NetEnt tend to be among the most impressive. And among the NetEnt games, a few revolve around famous bands and rock stars. One of those games is called “Jimi Hendrix Online Slot,” and it revolves entirely around the artist. The game features a terrific animated intro depicting Hendrix starting a concert, and then takes you to a rock-themed slot reel with Hendrix hits playing in the background. Random? Incredibly. But awesome? Surprisingly so, yeah.

Until recently, this game was more or less foreign to Americans — meaning many if not most of Hendrix’s fans. Lately though, it’s become more available as some slot gaming sites have been legalized in certain parts of the U.S. Now, thousands of games from top developers can be accessed and enjoyed online, either through free demos or through official play with real money on the line. The NetEnt Hendrix game tends to be featured at the top sites, and is really one of the best slots you’ll find across all of them. As with the Tupac hologram show, this tribute wasn’t really needed to keep Jimi Hendrix alive. But it’s still a fun one, and it’s undoubtedly exposing some new audiences to the greatest guitarist who ever lived.

3. Chuck Berry Via Chuck Klosterman

This isn’t quite a tribute in the sense that the previous two examples are, but it’s still an interesting example of a music icon being considered in a new light. A few years ago, critic and cultural commentator Chuck Klosterman wrote an interesting book called But What If We’re Wrong?. It’s a little bit tricky to explain, but basically Klosterman was exploring modern culture as if he were looking back on it centuries from now. His premise is that what we expect to be memorable might not be, and that history will pick and choose which elements of modern culture to define our time with.

The book goes beyond music, but we won’t be spoiling anything by telling you where he lands when discussing rock ’n’ roll. As he’s discussed in interviews, Klosterman lands on Chuck Berry as the figure most likely to define rock centuries from now. He toys with Bob Dylan also, and largely dismisses some of the bands people might think of first (like The Beatles) — but he decides that Berry defines rock in the most fundamental way. Klosterman acknowledges that Rock was “black music that was kind of mainstreamed by white people,” and goes back to Berry as the figure who established some of the genre’s tropes. In this case, the whole idea of the discussion is that Berry will always be remembered for his music. But his appearance in this book (which was a New York Times Best Seller) definitely put him in front of a lot of people who probably weren’t familiar with his music.

None of these icons needed these tributes. However, these examples just go to show that people will always find interesting new ways to remember or celebrate cultural legends.

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