What To Do About Spooky Black

We live in an irony-saturated society. It’s a basic fact of life and no essays by the likes of David Foster Wallace or even the esteemed myself can do anything about it.

And while there are plenty of ramifications to this new ironociety, one of the most glaring ones has been slammed into our faces (and eardrums) thanks to one Spooky “Lil Spook” Black…

The internet’s hottest mystery, Spooky Black, most likely, looks like this:

Incidentally though, the supposed 15-year old out of St. Paul Minnesota, again most likely, sounds like this:

which, while incredibly derivative of acts like The Weeknd and James Blake, has sucked in more than a few fans. And if you listen to the full album, you have to admit that it’s at the very least listenable and at times is even actually pretty damn good.

But how do you escape remembering that this is, again most likely, the man behind it all…

Music blogs are writing things like:

With Spooky Black…I’m at a loss. It’s pretty undeniably good for what it is.

You’re going to hate me for this, but I swear on everything I love, this is dope. Super dope. Ambient perfection.” 


It’s not that what he’s doing is so revolutionary, but i’m not sure if it’s ever felt this sincere.

And that’s the problem; it does sound sincere. Sure the lyrics are as emotionally complex as one might expect from a teenager in Minnesota (“Let me take you away from the cold/Baby be my diamonds and gold“), but it’s nothing worse than standard pop fare and it does feel like there is real heart behind his words.

So why does he feel the need to dress the way he does and release music videos like this (which currently has about 300,000 views)?

Is it a mask? Is this racist? Is he just going through “a phase”? Is he punking us all like the lovechild of Sade and Andy Kaufman?

Does it change anything that Doc McKinney, famous for producing The Weeknd’s House of Balloons and Thursday mixtapes, has been tweeting about him and has possibly even been in St. Paul (presumably to visit the rising star)?

And if he does get bigger and enter a more commercial music landscape, what’s the reaction going to be?

We’ve been so conditioned to be trigger-happy when it comes to calling bullshit on something, it’s thrown off our ability to judge something that might be a bit more nuanced (or might not be). The truth is, we don’t have enough information to properly judge this kid, no matter what we think.

We aren’t able to handle complex narratives when it comes to our celebrities anyway, and until we’re able to place this in more context (he hasn’t done a single interview, his Facebook account is less than a month old, and his brand new Twitter account isn’t helpful), we’re just left balancing smooth, authentic-sounding R&B with out of place du-rags and a general feeling of discord about the whole situation. 

So while this kid might be (and probably is) just a culturally-misappropriating d-bag with talent who knows how to use GarageBand really well, everyone deserves their day in court, and we can’t just go tar and feathering him like an adolescent male Kreayshawn.

At least not yet…