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I don’t know if you’ve noticed but Black folk are serious about our legends. Sometimes to a fault. (See Bill Cosby.) If there’s one group who takes this charge of protection seriously, it’s the old heads: 50 and older, especially those in the music business. With decades in the game, there’s no telling how much disrespect, discrimination and abuse they’ve endured at the hands of the industry.

They’re sensitive about their sh*t. We saw that play out with an unlikely pair this weekend when legendary R&B singer Stephanie Mills shared some choice words for blue-eyed soul singer Sam Smith.

When Sam Smith’s friend Adam Lambert recorded the singer saying her didn’t like Michael Jackson’s music. According to, “The two were seen soaking up some sun on a boat when Lambert panned over to Smith who can be seen saying “I don’t like Michael Jackson, but this is a good song.” The clip ended right after with a few friends not seen replying “wow.”

As you can imagine, the public reaction was similar.

But the story became even more interesting once Mills weighed in. On her Instagram page, she shared Smith’s comments with her own analysis included in the caption.


I certainly understand where she’s coming from. Like I said before, it’s no secret that Black artists don’t get the respect or the money they deserve for the art forms we’ve created and mastered. The same art that has fed more than its fair share of White folk. Meanwhile, White people who who utilize the sound enjoy all of the financial and commercial success. It’s a privilege not enough White folk acknowledge–with the exception of Adele in her dedication to Beyoncé at The Grammys. And the fact that Sam Smith would say he doesn’t appreciate one of the greatest artists ever is off-putting and slightly tone deaf.

Still, Michael Jackson is not hurting for validation from anyone, least of all Sam Smith. And at the very end of the day, he’s entitled to his own opinion, no matter how misguided it might be. I don’t know if the stating of his opinion warranted this reaction. Still, I’m not mad at Auntie for protecting our icons.

What do you make of all of this? Did Stephanie Mills take it too far or was Sam Smith out of line?


Veronica Wells is the culture editor at She is also the author of “Bettah Days” and the creator of the website NoSugarNoCreamMag. You can follow her on Facebook and on Instagram and Twitter @VDubShrug.
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