Smokey Robinson Slams Critics of Jennifer Lopez's Motown Tribute for 'Trying to Set Us Back 100 Years'
"So now you're gonna try to diminish the scope of Motown and narrow it down to just music for black people... Well, you're trying to set us back a hundred years," Robinson passionately wrote
The legendary singer, 78, came to Lopez’s defense on Tuesday after many argued that the 49-year-old singer should not have been chosen to perform in the tribute at Sunday’s Grammy Awards.
His passionate post refuted the argument that black performers should’ve been chosen to honor the genre that was made famous by artists like Marvin Gaye, The Supremes, Gladys Knight & the Pips and The Temptations.
“Attention, all those of you who protested a wonderful, super talented, world renowned, super star like Jennifer Lopez, showing her love and support for Motown music, here’s some food for thought,” he began in the lengthy Instagram post shared on Tuesday.
“On the very first day of Motown Berry Gordy told the five of us who were present, ‘I’m gonna start my own record company and we’re gonna make music for everybody and always be sure to make quality music that the world can enjoy,'” he recalled. “And through the Grace of God and hard work and determination, we accomplished that.”
“Kids of all races, worldwide, grew up loving the music of Motown, imitating our acts,” Robinson continued. “Pretending to be Diana Ross, the Temptations, Michael Jackson and so on. Parents were and still are turning their kids on to the music of Motown.”
The “Crusin'” singer went on to slam the people who were criticizing J. Lo saying they were going against everything that the Motown era originally set out to be.
“So now you’re gonna try to diminish the scope of Motown and narrow it down to just music for black people and you call yourself defending the image of Motown,” he said. “Well you’re trying to set us back a hundred years. If you call yourself loving Motown, be happy that we reached so many people and broke down so many racial barriers.”
“And that an artist like Jennifer, even after hearing all your negative comments, still loved Motown enough to do the tribute anyway. Now that’s love and respect,” he added.
Robinson even brought up other instances where artists of different ethnicities, including Tina Marie and Rare Earth, paid tribute to Motown and claimed that those against J. Lo also must have “hated” her predecessors’ performances.
“Stop hating. Motown united people not divided them,” he stated. “So don’t call yourself loving Motown if you’re a hater and spreading the same bigotry that you so strongly oppose coming at you from others. J Lo was great and we at Motown love her.”
“The beauty of Motown is that we’re a family made up of Black, White, Hispanic, and Asian women and men,” Robinson finished. “We had a very diverse employee roster. So I hope knowing these few facts helps you get your perspective together and think about the hate you’re spreading.”
Robinson then shared a photo with Lopez on stage and captioned it: “Thank You, MY GIRL @JLo 💛💙 #Grammys #MotownDidItFirst”
The “Jenny From the Block” singer also argued that she was worthy of headlining the performance in a recent interview with Entertainment Tonight.
“The thing about music is that it inspires all,” Lopez said. “Any type of music can inspire any type of artist. You can’t tell people what to love. You can’t tell people what they can and can’t do, what they should sing or not sing. You gotta do what’s in your heart.”
She went on to say that Gordy, as well as the producers of the awards show, were “thrilled” about her involvement. “They know how much I have been influenced by that music and so it was a natural fit for them.”
As for those critics? “That’s okay,” Lopez said to the outlet. “I’m just very humbled and honored to be able to have sung those songs.”
But on Sunday, users on Twitter weren’t so convinced by her involvement with the tribute.
“J. Lo better not salsa her way to the cookout because she is uninvited for that terrible performance,” preacher Jared Sawyer Jr. tweeted. “How do you do a Motown tribute without an ALL BLACK cast of artists?! And it’s Black History Month too.”
Sawyer suggested that Knight, Stevie Wonder, Patti LaBelle, Jennifer Hudson, Tina Turner or “practically anyone else” take Lopez’s place.
Other tweeters echoed that sentiment.
Lopez’s tribute had the Bronx-born singer performing hits like “Dancing in the Street,” “Do You Love Me,” “Money (That’s What I Want),” “Please Mr. Postman” and more — while wearing numerous sparkling numbers. In addition to Robinson, Motown recording artist Ne-Yo also joined Lopez during the set.
At its conclusion, Lopez gave a heartfelt shout out to her 73-year-old mom, Lupe, whom she said raised her on the soulful music.