This genre was often referred to as “coon songs.” These ragtime songs were popular from the 1890s through the 1910s. Ernest Hogan, a Black musician and producer, had a hit with “All Coons Look Alike to Me” in 1896. Hogan’s song unleashed a string of hateful imitations with insulting and derogatory lyrics.
These racist songs were an outgrowth of white fear of Blacks migrating from rural to urban areas. A common theme found in the lyrics and cover art was the depiction of rural Black Southerners as primitive but disguised in fine dress.