I was perusing through my Twitter timeline and saw a friend discussing the current state of R&B. He stated that it left nothing to the imagination or simply felt like rap. That stirred something in me. Depending upon how deeply rooted you are in music, this may or may not resonate with you. A part of me agreed, but I immediately thought about some of my favorites and then realized they had something in common. They aren’t on your local radio station’s daily rotation.
This is a vast change from my childhood and teenage years. I’m an eighties baby, born right before I missed my mark of greatness. I grew up with music as a major influence on my life. From singing in the choir at school and church to playing the violin. Music unconsciously surrounding most of my daily activities; If I was visiting my grandfather I knew I would not be able to listen to the hip hop/R&B stations, he only played the oldies. The variety of artist ranged from The Beatles to Marvin Gaye. Nothing resonated with me more than the sounds of Motown. Stories told through songs of love, heartache and everything else that was going on in the world.
Somewhere between the growth of R&B music and times passage the essence was lost. I hardly listen to the radio, but I am in tune with what is considered popular music. Although it is catchy and fun, something is missing. The soul – the heart of the music – is simply gone. No longer are men/women singing about trying to get their significant other back; No longer is the focus finding real love. R&B has now taken on the shape of Hip Hop/Rap – keeping up with the image and appeal of rappers. Leaving the older generation with a yearning for a deeper connection or reminiscing on our music – which is now labeled as “old skool”. But it isn’t old, in fact, this transition didn’t start until a few years ago.
The Get Down
Fortunately, along with changes in music, we have also developed new ways of consuming the latest releases. Platforms like Youtube and Soundcloud have given independent artists the opportunity to release music without the funding of major record labels or radio spins. Streaming of music has replaced the traditional way of discs. These platforms are also open to both mainstream and independent artists, which allows us to access endless music.
2 Dope Queens Podcast
In my opinion, the soul in R & B isn’t missing, it’s simply rooted in another infrastructure. I spent the week putting together a playlist of some of my current favorite R&B artists. I spent time venturing into new artists and dug up some gold.