Rox: R&B…What happened?Written by Martini Rox | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Is it just me or are we hearing less and less R&B? I find myself picking through mainstream artists trying to find songs that are more about love than sex, drugs and partying. I am no prude, but I still flinch when I hear vulgar expletives in contemporary R&B. Maybe it is because hip-hop has become more than a component; hip-hop has started making R&B.
I have a slow jam show (Night Moves 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. on 107.3FM) that represents some of the best years in R&B, (late ’80s-’90s to now) and I even include hip-hop love songs. However, I struggle to find recent “slow jams” that are a big enough hit to play on commercial urban radio.
A slow jam here and there from a rapper was unheard of in the early ’80s, but then L.L. Cool J came out with “I Need Love” and the rest is history. Thugs in love have provided some of the biggest chart toppers in urban radio from Method Man’s “You’re All I Need to Get By” to Ja Rule to any song by Drake.
It’s obvious that the definition of R&B has evolved over the last few years, but the lines have blurred considerably within the last 10 to 20. The reintroduction of Auto-Tune helped increase that blurred line. When T-Pain’s debut album, “Rappa Ternt Sanga,” was released in 2005, it led to an onslaught of similar rap albums/songs from artists like Kanye West, Snoop Dog and most recently Future.
Where does this leave R&B? Well, if you want to hear songs about love on mainstream radio you may have to look to other genres or artists you would never consider. Surprisingly pop artists like Justin Bieber and Justin Timberlake are making some of the best mainstream R&B. So what happened to urban radio staples like Usher, Ne-yo Mariah and Beyonce? Their music became influenced by pop and hip-hop, which transformed R&B into “adult contemporary.” Artists refuse to stay in their lane, trying to get a piece of everyone’s pie, leaving purists in any genre left out of awards show consideration and nomination. Album sales/downloads for any artist doing just one type of music is considerably lower unless they create a phenomenon with their music and then you can bet the others will scramble to imitate and duplicate the success of that phenomenon.
African-Americans started the R&B genre, but as music evolved it touched many races and ethnic groups, inspiring their music as theirs inspires ours. Nothing remains the same forever, but in order to retain genre clarity in R&B, we have to support real R&B.
There is beautiful music being made and I remain nostalgic for acts such as Boyz II Men, Jodeci, Dru Hill, Jagged Edge and Faith Evans. All of these acts were influenced by hip-hop, but they made songs about love and what it takes to make it last. As long as the masses accept well-promoted ignorance, all urban music will only contain subject matter geared toward sex, drugs and money.
With all this talk about real R&B, I invite you to check out some of our local artists via SoundCloud, Krystal Monique, Wall Music, Tracy The Rare Breed Haynes, Sasha P Clayborne, Jay Rush and Kenny B to name a few.
As we continue on…
Tags: 107.3 FM, Adult Contemporary, Beyoncé, Boyz II Men, Drake, Dru Hill, Faith Evans, Future, Hip-Hop, I Need Love, Ja Rule, Jagged Edge, Jay Rush, Jodeci, Justin Bieber, Justin Timberlake, Kanye West, Kenny B, Krystal-Monique, LL Cool J, Martini Rox, Method Man, Ne-yo Mariah, Night Moves, On the Rox, R&B, Rappa Ternt Sanga, Sasha P Clayborne, Snoop Dogg, SoundCloud, T-Pain, Tracy The Rare Breed Haynes, Usher, Wall Music, You're All I Need to Get By