All Articles Tagged "Zhane"
Has anyone else noticed that when it comes to today’s R&B singer, people only speak on Beyoncé and Rihanna? And when they do, a majority of the time, it’s to have a debate about which diva is better. Somebody has to be ‘on top.’ In the year 2013, women in the R&B game (if not all of music) can’t seem to co-exist to fans; they have to be at the top, or they need to find a new job. Only one can be the head you-know-what in charge, and it’s not based on actual talent anymore, but who sells the most songs, albums and tickets for their tour, and who has a wealth of outside projects bringing them money. Being a successful brand has trumped being an-all around gifted singer/musician. It absolutely sucks.
I miss the days when singers and female rappers hopped on each other’s tracks. I miss when they made cameos in each other’s videos. I miss when they could show the world their talent and sell records with their clothes on, and in the case of someone like Aaliyah, with baggy clothes on at that. And most of all, I miss the days of R&B singers actually dropping R&B tracks and not going completely pop and electronic dance to sell some singles. The day of the talented R&B singer and her soulful music has shifted drastically, and instead of showing solidarity, half of the time, folks are beefing with each other on Twitter over frivolous drama. It’s sad when you consider the bevvy of singers that were around making moves in the ’80s and ’90s by themselves and in groups.
This realization came, not after watching yet another twerk-filled video, but after having a conversation with a co-worker who came to the conclusion that the R&B game is getting smaller and weaker. We were talking about a particular artist who despite some light buzz, still hadn’t had an album released by her label, and was somewhat “famous” for just being seen. My colleague wound up saying, “I just don’t care about R&B singers anymore,” and that kind of made me sad.
In my mind, I thought about how geeked up folks would get about a new Mary J album back in the day. I thought about people’s excitement over Jill Scott and her sound, singing in unison “I’m getting tiiiiiired of yo s**t” to Erykah Badu, blasting Lauryn Hill (though she was also Hip-Hop), jamming to Zhané, dancing to a Janet track, trying to do the Toni voice, and cooling out to Sade. Now, as previously stated, it’s either Bey or Rih. Anybody else gets limited love because for one, everybody’s trying to do MORE than just sing (they want to be on TV and act and take forever to put out new albums). It’s also because we, the media, give a majority of shine to the women only on top, and also because these big names won’t take a break from the spotlight because of fears of fading out of importance and getting a tad bit irrelevant. How long was Bey really on maternity leave? And I think we’ve all come to expect an album a year from Rihanna (she’s got three months left to drop something).
But another big part of it is that the singers looking for shine are lacking star power. They might be able to sing their behinds off, but their label won’t drop their album and would rather let them resort to mixtape after mixtape because they don’t have the “It” factor that singers from back in the day had. Most R&B singers and female lyricists had their own unique style and sound years ago (though in the ’80s everybody and their mom had to do big curly hair). Today, everyone looks the same (you either have a cascading weave or a short cut shaved on the sides with a lot of hair at the crown), everyone’s dressing the same and then blaming each other for stealing old styles, and the tracks don’t necessarily stand out (everybody’s writing angry love songs or boring ones). So the women, in turn, don’t stand out.
Aside from gifted singers who don’t receive as much shine as they should (Janelle Monae, Elle Varner, Melanie Fiona, etc.), R&B is on struggle mode. And if it wasn’t hard enough, some folks doing well who should be considered R&B are trying to act like they’re more rock or dance so they won’t be stuck in a box. The sound has changed with the times, and I don’t know about you, but I’m not all that impressed. I want that old thing back…
I’m sure you were somewhere getting in your feelings to the jams of these ladies. If not, you were pretending to be more cultured because you knew the words to Tracy Chapman’s “Give Me One Reason,” either way, the women behind some of our favorite emotional jams had more talent in their pinky fingers than most singers had in their whole bodies. Many achieved a pretty good level of success, and some are happy just making music, but they’re very underrated to us.
Though times have certainly changed and we rarely see groups anymore, the groups of yesteryear live on and we sing their songs like they just came out yesterday. When a group broke up, they gave a simple excuse similar to, “Oh, we just wanted to do something different.” Maybe…or maybe not. Check out the real reason some of our favorite groups broke up…
It has been a good while since we’ve seen singer Jean Baylor, one half of the epic ’90s duo Zhané (pronounced Jah-Nay). The group, once known for their short hair and big voices, brought us such hits as “Hey Mr. D.J.,” “Sending My Love” and “Groove Thang.” The duo came together after Baylor and Renee Neufville met at Temple University while they were separately trying to get their starts in the business:
“Our introduction into the business came through Jazzy Jeff, as he was just starting Touch of Jazz. Someone introduced us to Jeff and we did a few recordings, and eventually sang on Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince’s remake of the 80’s hit “Ring My Bell,” featured alongside their hit single, “Summertime,” she says. When Renee and I were in college, we used to perform at talent shows, campus events and weddings, pretty much wherever we were asked. The funny thing is, we were not yet a group, we just enjoyed singing together and on each other’s songs that we wrote. One day at Jeff’s studio, we met Benny Medina and he suggested we become a group, and so we did.”
But that was then. Nowadays, Baylor is still making good music, but doing so as a solo artist and with a larger group called Free Day (which her husband, drummer Marcus Baylor, helped form). She’s now gearing up for her first solo holiday album called Light Up the World, which she says will offer non-traditional Christmas jams that anybody and everybody can relate to. And she’ll also have a feature on the disc alongside R&B singer Eric Roberson.
“There are also songs that represent an expression of worship and celebration unto God. I just hope I get to do some Christmas shows so I can perform them live!”
As we await her holiday album, we thought we’d offer you the chance to get to learn a little something extra about one of our favorite singers. Check it.
My greatest love lesson is…
- Love God first. He puts everything else in place.
My best trait is…
- My winning personality!
My worst trait is…
- My terrible personality. (kidding)
My favorite four albums of all time are…
- *All things Anita Baker
- *All things CeCe Winans
- *All things Carmen McCrae
- *All things Stevie Wonder
If I could live anywhere in the world…
- Australia would be nice…
My happiest time was…
- My childhood
If I could only wear one designer’s clothes for the rest of my life, it would be…
- Besides the dollar store? Burberry.
Inspiration comes from…
- Everything around me
My favorite book is…
- God Chasers, by author Tommy Tenney
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Whether you’re part of the industry or listening from the outside in, everyone knows how fickle mainstream music can be. One hit is hard enough to come by, let alone an actual lasting and flourishing career. Hence the change up of our favorite R&B artists from lovelorn crooners to the newest school of techno babies (See: “DJ’s Got Us Falling in Love,” “Yeah 3x”. ) That’s why you can’t put a face to those early morning/late night radio jams that you barely remember the lyrics to: they’ve been diagnosed with the one-hit wonder syndrome. Or in other cases, the fate of, “that’s that one song.” And while there’s nothing wrong with having a short career (better a little one than hustling mixtapes forever,) it does suck to be remembered as “that guy” or “‘ol girl.” So if you’ve been wondering who made some of your favorite songs from the ‘90s and up, or just if anyone else cares where they are, this list is for you.