All Articles Tagged "R&B music"
When I was a young girl in love with music, I’d often fill up blank VHS tapes with episodes and visual clips from BET’s hit show, “Video Soul.” After they were recorded, I could replay the latest songs over and over at my leisure. The now-defunct show boasted a variety of R&B jams, featuring some of the most well-known and underground artists. Besides my love of music, “Video Soul” intrigued me because although each artist on the show was different, most did the same thing: they all sang about love. As a preteen who had never been in love, the music gave me something to look forward to. I wanted to one day grow up and experience the love people like Boyz II Men, Anita Baker, and Luther Vandross were singing about. Little did I know, by the time I would get into a serious relationship, R&B music would take on a whole new meaning and message.
Back then, singers bellowed out lyrics that focused on the triumphs and tribulations associated with being in love, and the many ways they wanted to demonstrate affection to their beloved. Fast forward to today’s contemporary R&B, where love is an afterthought and drinking, drugs, and sex carry the theme of the song. Why has rhythm and blues turned into melodic gangsta rap set out to kill romance and love? And why do I have to resort to my old-school music stash more times than not when I want to hear a good love song?
R&B originated in the 1940s, and contemporary R&B arrived on the scene in the ’80s. The lyrics showed Black people on a quest to express themselves through love, freedom, and joy. But oh, how times have changed. Instead of hearing Lionel Richie and Diana Ross croon about endless love, we now have artists harmonizing about their main ‘thangs’ bringing friends to sexual encounters. It could be argued that love songs have changed because what it means to be in love has also shifted in our generation. The plethora of broken homes has created a generation that doesn’t know what love really is. So some could contend that R&B artists and songwriters of today can’t produce music about something they don’t have full knowledge of.
Men used to sing about how beautiful their woman was. Now a woman is lucky if her man doesn’t refer to her as a “bad b*tch” more than once. It’s sickening at times. A genre of music once rooted in romance has now become an array of rough lyrics over smooth beats.
While I don’t believe that every singer nor song for that matter is the same, the vast majority in contemporary R&B are not conducive to happy love or lovemaking. Maybe raunchy sex, but making love? Not so much. Maybe the genre most know as neo-soul has taken R&B’s place. The only problem with that is most neo-soul artists never get the opportunity for mainstream airplay and often go unheard.
We often hear the question posed, is hip-hop dead? But the same can be asked of R&B. Is the music that once encouraged love and commitment now a thing of the past? Is R&B in fact buried next to what some once considered hip-hop? Or is it evolving and I just need to get with the times?
Bruno Mars has the looks, the voice and the talent, but there’s still a disconnect. For some reason, not everyone is feeling the new school crooner. He’d catch a grenade for us. He’s told us that all those other girls had nothing on us. And most of all, he told us he loves us just the way we are. So what’s the problem ladies–well, sistas–why aren’t we head over heels (or at least willing to put heels over head) for Bruno Mars?
Are we not convinced by the Grammy winner’s cooler-than-the-other-side-of-the-pillow, Fedora-rocking image? What about his sweet, pleading, I-mean-every-word vocals?
It’s not like we don’t enjoy unconventional soul like–John Mayer, Justin Timberlake and Robin Thicke–but it seems that Bruno’s soul is a facade put on by the powers that be at his record label. Motown Records wasn’t even feeling the Filipino and Puerto Rican singer/songwriter, as he was let go from an unfruitful deal with them. You can never fool the listening public and personally, I don’t buy it. Instead of closing my eyes, snapping my fingers and getting lost in Bruno Mars’ visit to Motown, I get irritated. It feels as if Bruno’s music comes off a little cheesy and almost whiny, but not in that good Keith Sweat-kind of way.
Read more at HelloBeautiful.com
“It’s the TGT remix!”
Sorry, I think of that line from the “Please Don’t Go” do over every time I type TGT’s name, but actually it’s sort of applicable here. Tyrese, Ginuwine, and Tank, have joined forces once again and reignited their supergroup known as TGT and today they’re dropping a new album appropriately titled “Three Kings.”
We wasted no time getting these handsome, fine, uber sexay, delicious, hard-bodied, oh yeah and talented men in our office to talk about a number of things (which you’ll see in another interview) but also what we can expect from their new LP and how they feel about their competition — if they have any — right now. Here’s what Tyrese had to say:
“R&B these days is insecure. R&B singers feel like they have to have rappers all over their albums in order to get attention, to get radio spins. A lot of R&B artists got their projects shelved because their labels would much rather put their money into hip-hop because nobody wants to not get a return on their investment. It’s a business. So for us to sell records and have this ‘Three Kings’ album be successful, we feel like it’s going to really make a statement and re-spark the interest in authentic R&B.”
Well, he’s convinced us!
Check out the rest of TGT’s interview below. Are you looking forward to hearing their album today?
We love to complain about the state of today’s music. And while it’s true that today’s lyrics are a bit more graphic, it doesn’t mean the music of the past wasn’t graphic in its own way. As a child who was born on the cusp of the ’90’s, I know from experience that things were a little risque back in the day. The older I got, the more I realized just how dirty those songs I used to love really were. If you don’t know what I mean, check out the songs I eventually realized were a bit on the raunch side.
There’s no doubt that music is a form of self-expression. And many artists not only use the recording booth as a hit-making platform, but also as a medium to impact social change and connect with their fans across the globe.
In celebration of Black Music Month we decided to highlight a few songs that have made an impact on Black culture throughout history.
From James Brown’s 1968 classic, “I’m Black and I’m Proud” and Queen Latifah’s tribute to sisters, to Kanye West praising Jesus, each song’s message has gone on to resonate with legions of listeners.
Read, See and Listen more at BlackVoices.com
“R&B Is Like High School Right Now”: Chris Brown Talks The Drama-Filled State of R&B, Why He Hopes To Change It, And His Bond With Miguel
Chris Brown is still out and about promoting his new album, X, which will come out in July, and he stopped by the Houston radio show 97.9 to speak on why he’s hoping to change the game of R&B again, and why he’s not about all the drama people think he is.
Opening up, Brown spoke about his hope for his future videos, and going for a Michael Jackson cinematic type of approach with them from now on, instead of the same big booty girls, big bootied cars thing everybody is doing right now:
“Hopefully I can make every video for this next album something like a movie, or something eventful. You know, capture the audience instead of doing the same ol’ big booties in the video, pull up in a nice car, and I’m rapping in the front. I would rather do a feature film type thing… Once the album is released I’m going to have at least 10 videos, so people can actually see and experience the songs they fall in love with by the visuals. I just want to switch it up and have a different approach.”
And Chris says that he wants to see other musicians in the game step it up. But he does think that out of everybody in R&B, he’s most impressed with Miguel:
“I’m in a good frame as far as music so I want everybody to do dope stuff. Like Miguel is doing great to me. Everything he does that’s dope, because it makes us as entertainers work harder. It’s just a whole bunch of people doing the same ‘ol bull and you don’t got a chance to elevate or work on your talents or crafts. So I commend all these new artists and everybody that’s really out here grinding. Showing all the old veteran artists that look man, your spot ain’t solidified. You take a hiatus it might be over…”
And of course, he discussed the state of R&B, which he claims is only focused on drama and personal scandals instead of actual music right now. Frankly, homeboy is sick and tired of it:
“People don’t even know, me and Miguel are good friends. Usually when you have R&B artists in this world, it’s always a competition or a back and forth because of who is better than who…But me and Miguel are close friends. I can’t say that about EVERY person in the industry [laughs], but definitely as far as the game is concerned, I’m more excited to see what’s going to come this summer. What’s going to happen with all the big, big events and awards in general. Because it’s time to make the music industry exciting again. Only thing that’s exciting about the music industry right now is the scandal and the B.S. You wanna see “Love and Hip Hop” or you want to see somebody fighting on TV, or who slept with this person and who cheated on who. It’s like high school to me. Mentally, I don’t even want to deal with it, I just want to put my music out.”
Seems like we’re seeing a new side of Chris, which is refreshing, because he’s got too much talent to constantly be embroiled in the drama. But alas, let’s see how long this will last.
What do you think of his statements about the state of R&B? Does he have a point?
You know that feeling you get when you hear your favorite singer sing live or even better, when you hear an old school song that makes you swoon? I’m pretty sure this guy can do the absolute same thing for you.
BJ The Chicago Kid is a singer/songwriter who hails from the south side of…yes, Chicago. His parents were choir directors and music was a constant in his home. His parents, though of the church world, were well-rounded enough to be open to listen to all kinds of music.
BJ moved to California when he was 19 and became a background singer for gospel stars Mary Mary. His words can be heard on songs by Mary J. Blige, Anthony Hamilton, Toni Braxton and Musiq Soulchild. He’s also sung background vocals or with stars like Usher and Stevie Wonder. BJ’s own music is extremely soulful, giving you very 70s soul and funk with a hip-hop slap on it.
Last year, he released Pineapple Now & Laters on iTunes which was possibly one of the most slept on R&B albums of 2012. Songs like “Fly Girl Get ‘Em” and “Aiight” are stand outs as he celebrates black women and also love and sex, respectively. Oh yes, BJ loves singing about bedroom activity; his most recent single, “Honey” is the proof in that pudding.
While, it seems like BJ is becoming a slow burn in the music industry, hip hop artists like Kendrick Lamar and Big K.R.I.T (who I’ll get to another day because you all are still sleeping on him) have also embraced him; Kendrick dropped a couple of verses on Pineapple Now & Laters and BJ sings the hook on “Life Is A Gamble” from K.R.I.T.’s latest mixtape, King Remembered In Time.
Now, I’m not going to force him on you but as a whole, we’re always complaining that music sucks and no one is really making anything good anymore, right?
Well, here I am: Serving you BJ The Chicago Kid on a platter.
Check out “Fly Girl Get Em” below:
Yesterday, I caught a couple of clips of Miguel on Saturday Night Live and I still can’t tell him apart from Bruno Mars.
And I’m not saying that because they are both are…er…well, brown singers in a field dominated by black or white folks. I am well aware that they don’t look anything alike. In fact, both singers do have their own distinctive appearance. Mars has an old-school Elvis Presley at a Sock Hop-type of flare about him, whereas Miguel’s style reminds me of an extra from The Fifth Element. My issue is that they both have that soft, airy voice reminiscent of El Debarge, and both perform this R&B-lite type of music, which while entertaining, is not the R&B we are most familiar with. And that means, vocally, there is not much that sets them apart.
I have had a hard time distinguishing between the two vocally since Miguel first came on the scene and dropped “All I Want is You.” I was at work and a co-worker, who was working but not really “working” at her desk at the time, was watching music videos. Familiar with the song from the radio, I walked by quickly, glanced at the screen and said, “Why does Bruno Mars have on a cowl neck shirt?” My co-worker laughed. She said it wasn’t Bruno Mars but Miguel and I was like, “What’s a Miguel? And she said, “He’s the guy that sings some of those songs you think are Bruno Mars’.” A couple of months later, I’m Google searching for my favorite campy song at the time, “Beautiful Girls” – except that was not the name of the song, and I had no idea who the rapper on the track was. I did, however, know that Miguel was on the chorus, but that was until Google responded, in that highlighted and italicized snarky sort of way, asking, “Nothin’ On You” with Bruno Mars?
Google you smart a**, of course that is what I meant! Shortly after, Miguel stopped getting radio play and kind of faded away into the musical background and I was relieved – not that I didn’t like him as an artist, but at least I wouldn’t have to go through the torment of trying to distinguish between the two anymore. To me, the music industry had spoken and Bruno Mars would be the token El Debarge-esque sounding brown-skinned singer on the scene from now on. At least that’s what I thought…
Fast forward to a few months ago when I’m out having drinks with the same coworker and she says, “You know whose album you need to get? Miguel’s!” I said out loud, “For real? Damn! I thought we got rid of him for good.” And then she responded saying, “I thought you liked Miguel? You are always around the office, humming the chorus to “Lotus Flower Bomb.”
From that moment on I was thoroughly confused, because after all of that time I was singing the song, I was thinking that Mars was on the hook. I tell her she is a liar. She pulls up the discography on the phone and proves it to me. Later that night, I’m driving home, still reeling from the shock, and “Adorn” comes on the radio. I instantly become completely frustrated and dismayed. Is left really right? Is up really down? Who the hell sings this song: Miguel or Mars?
Maybe it is an age thing. Perhaps I am too old to relate fully to today’s R&B music. Admittedly, as much as I try, I just don’t jive completely with the unromantic and non-committal hookup parties, which makes up a large portion of today’s musical landscape. This is particularly true of today’s R&B. I like to hear songs about love and the complications of love. To me, a one-night stand doesn’t need a song. Not to mention that everyone does sound alike. This is pretty much true of many top-of-the-chart singers outside of Mars and Miguel. I also think that the industry back in the day used to work on making sure their artists had their own distinct sounds. You might have compared Teddy Pendergrass with Marvin Gaye, but you never confused the two. The same with Aretha Franklin and Patti LaBelle. In high school, my friends and I were all about the hip-hop/R&B New Jack Swing with Mary J Blige and Faith Evans leading the pack for the ladies. I remember when we first heard their remake to Rose Royce’s “Love Don’t Live Here Anymore.” We had a loud boisterous conversation about whose verse was better than whose. It’s a debate that still largely remains unresolved today. The irony is that if we had Miguel and Mars on the same track, would we be able to tell the difference?
It must be hard being a famous musician in the public eye. When you say you’re inspired by certain musicians, people (sometimes, THAT musician too), like to say you’re trying to be like them. When you don’t pay “homage” to these people, then fans and musicians fading out of the limelight like to claim you stole their style completely. You can’t win for trying! Over the years, there have been many folks who have been called out for having a style similar to someone else, some we can understand, others we think are getting unnecessary shade. We thought we’d compile these folks and figure out who is killing it on their own, and who is a clone.
R. Kelly and Aaron Hall
If you ask some people, Aaron Hall put an imaginary patent on the permission to rock a bald head, sunglasses and and sing at a ridiculously loud but melodic level. Hall had that look and sound on lock during the early ’90s, but some say R. Kelly came through and stole it, and even swiped his singing style. I can’t lie, there are some songs from the early days of the R-ruh’s career that make me think if I closed my eyes, I might be hearing Aaron Hall (“She’s Got That Vibe” anyone?), but as Kellz became more popular and Hall started to slowly fade out of the music scene to try his hand at being a dog whisperer…his style and music continuously changed (he still talked about sex constantly, but you know what I mean…). Either way though, Hall isn’t sweating it, because while Kelly may have stolen his style, he says, the singer can’t touch his swag:
“I know a lot of people out there are saying that R. Kelly stole my style. But remember he can’t touch my swagger. I got that old school swag, that 80′s swag and ain’t nobody touching that.”
My extended hand was kindly ignored as R&B singer Tank went for a hug instead of a formal handshake. Even though he was bundled up against the frigid New York temperatures, Tank’s chiseled frame was not hard to detect underneath all those layers.
His fourth studio album “Now or Never” dropped earlier in the day and in less than an hour he would be taking the stage at SOB’s nightclub after an opening performance by Kandi Burruss, whose new solo album was also on its first day of sales.
Animated, happy and very funny (he could have his on television show), Tank sat down with Madame Noire to talk about his new album, whether or not he listens to his own music during sex and why you don’t often see male R &B artists hanging out together.