Zip Coon to VV Brown…

VV Brown feat. Chiddy Bang- Children

Does this tune sound familiar? Hear ice cream trucks play it all the time? Well, this tune is actually over 150 years old. It was a well-known American folk song from the early 19th century. Originally popularized with blackface minstrel performers, the tune was associated with several songs — “Old Zip Coon,” “Turkey in the Straw” and “Natchez Under the Hill.” The minstrel character of Zip Coon was a black stock character representing a free northern black who was basically an “uppity negro” and imitating whites. Supposedly the tune came from an old ballad, “My Grandmother Lived on Yonder Little Green,” which came from an old Irish ballad, “The Old Rose Tree.” Since then the tune has been used in a variety of sources, especially child-related ones, which explains VV Brown’s usage of the song. This just shows how a popular cultural item’s use can transform in a society over time and also hide a less than favorable past.

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