Object 3: The Rolling Stones’ song Brown Sugar

May 27, 2021


The song Brown Sugar by The Rolling Stones was released in 1991 as part of their album ‘Sticky Fingers’. It is seen to use sexist and offensive language toward black women. This is also evident through the original title of the song which was ‘Black Pussy’, apart from the title that changed, the references to drugs, the misogyny, the racism and the sexism remained which then led people to call it a nasty and racist song.

This song makes us think whether it is acceptable for some songs to be racist or offensive just because it was written in a short amount of time, which was The Rolling Stones’ justification. I do believe that when touching on a sensitive topic the lyrics of the piece should be censored. In 1995 Mick Jagger, the lead singer admitted that his lyrics may have gone a bit too far, “I never would write that song now. I would probably censor myself… I can’t just write raw like that”. Thus, this song shows that there may be challenges when knowledge is communicated through song lyrics, as debate may arise on whether censorship should be encouraged for the protection of people or if this infringes free speech and limits the liberation and communication of people’s thoughts.

The song adds depth to the exhibition as it highlights or questions the significance of song writing as a medium of communication. It questions whether song lyrics may be seen as non- offensive if the purpose of communication is purely to entertain and the audience enjoys the melody and the music – detaching the song from its meaning, or if the explicit meaning of the words should be inherently perceived as offensive regardless of its musical purpose.

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