“CAUTION,” warns the back cover of George Clinton’s 1986 album R&B Skeletons in the Closet, “Segments of This Album May Contain JUNGLE MUSIC!” This tongue-in cheek warning is one of many drawings on the cover by Clinton’s go-to artist, Pedro Bell, responding to a growing trend in the 1980s: black artists who were crossing over to white audiences. For musicians aspiring to crossover success, there’s even a handy list of “What To DROP To Go POP.” Captain Crossover, a robot composed equally of black and white parts, details how black artists can change their lyrics, hair, clothes, and behavior to “almost [guarantee their] stardom.” Last on...

You do not currently have access to this content.