tUnE-yArDs

Here's a fact few white American musicians feel comfortable facing: every kind of American music, from Top-40 pop to high mountain bluegrass, has some root in the work and creativity of people of color. Arguments about appropriation surface most commonly when artists are clearly borrowing from well-known sources; Justin Timberlake's decision to repackage his blue-eyed funk in Ralph Lauren-style quasi-neutrals is the latest example of white performers side-stepping the fact that they owe their very souls to black collaborators, acknowledged or not.

For nearly a decade, Tune-Yards' Merrill Garbus has been known for drumming, strumming and dancing wildly onstage as she coaxes sound from a handful different instruments and a trusty loop pedal. While the signature sound of Tune-Yards is distinct, Garbus isn't one to put labels on her music.

"It's always the hardest thing," she says. "I appreciate how I'm allowed to maybe not classify the music I play because as soon as you do, assumptions begin to be made and you start shutting out people."

LOOKatOKC pop music columnist Matt Carney joins host Ryan LaCroix every week to discuss music news and new music releases during All Things Considered on KOSU.

This week, we talk about the new album from Tune-Yards, the blue-collar rap of Young Moe and a pop collaboration between Robyn and Royksopp.


The creators of pop music are usually able to break down the fundamentals of their craft — that search for the clever rhyme, the killer beat, the singable chorus. They are less articulate, understandably, about the other quest, the one that powers those everyday searches: the pursuit of ecstasy in sound. There's something almost paranormal about that part of the creative process, yet we know those moments, instantly, when we hear them.