Afrokeys and Har Mar Superstar squash Sam Cooke 'appropriation' beef

Afrobeats and Har Mar Superstar

Afrobeats and Har Mar Superstar Dan Huseby; Bridget Bennett

Outside of online banking and weather updates, the internet is a terrible place for most everything. Especially heated debates over sensitive and important subjects. 

That much was reiterated earlier this week, when two Twin Cities musicians -- producer/label owner Afrokeys (aka Erick Anderson) and singer-songwriter Har Mar Superstar (aka Sean Tillmann) -- tussled angrily via Twitter. For weeks, Anderson accused Tillmann, who's currently touring his Sam Cooke tribute show around the country, of culturally appropriating black art for profit. Eventually, Tillmann fired back defensively. 

Things got ugly

In the aftermath, there was optimistic chatter about "starting a conversation," a noble takeaway that so often fizzles into pure lip service. But dammit, the two artists spun their beef into gold, meeting face-to-face Wednesday to deep-dive on concepts like appropriation, bullying, and, it seems, fishing. Unsurprisingly, the IRL exchange yielded more positive returns than the Twitter one.


The main takeaway should be obvious: Discussions tend to unfold more fruitfully away from the apocalyptic din of the internet. Did Afrokeys and Har Mar solve the thorny issue of cultural appropriation? Obviously not, but they took the time to listen to one another, and made the most of a once-fraught situation.