Wednesday, July 26, 2006

"Rhythm & Bullshit?: The Slow Decline of R&B"

I'm still working on getting through this, but with the little I've read thus far, at the very least, it appears to be a great piece for discussion. Kudos to JNP for throwing this my way.

Yeah, I'm nostalgic: When Mary J. Blige first uttered the opening lines to "You Remind Me," it was about making sure that hip-hop remembered that R&B came from the same streets where crackheads roamed and the same tenement vestibules where drama went down on the regular. But as I listen to Mario's "Let Me Love You" for the 727th time, it is perhaps easy to suggest that R&B has lost its Soul, or that Clear Channel, Radio One (luv ya, Cathy!), AOL-Time Warner and Viacom -- a neo-plantation cabal if ever there was one -- ripped its heart out. Hip-hop may have sold out, but at least it has sold out on its own terms. R&B, on the other hand, has sold out on somebody else's, on a pop-chart paper chase. Truth be told, U(r)sher was nothing more than a soon-past-his-peak R&B singer before John Smith laced him with some crunk junk; Ray J could have sang the hook on "Yeah" and topped the pop charts. And now, 10 million units later, we want to act like Mr. Raymond is the second coming of Michael Jackson? I ain't willing to grant him the second coming of Bobby Brown. And it is not like we even knew Mr. Legend (in his own mind) and Ms. Queen of Crunk n' B were in the room, until some hip-hop act sanctioned their presence. But what ails contemporary R&B is not just a matter of the commercial success of John Legend -- and Amerie and Ciara and Mario. The current state of R&B comes not from a sudden decline, but a process more than 30 years in the making.

Continue reading the article here


Brother Spotless said...

To be fair, Michael Jackson was never considered "The King of Soul." He was knighted as "The King of Pop." So, it seems fitting to consider Usher to be the second coming, or rather, "The Prince of Pop."

Brother Lightness said...

Fair point indeed.

Cocacy said...

Thanks for the article. Mark Anthony Neal always has geat ideas...

The Gabbery said...

R&B is a consciousness, no spirit, no soul, with singers that are still in diapers.

qwerty said...

Artist: Chris Rock
Album: Roll With The New
Song: Champagne
Year: 1997

*Opening monologue*
Yo man, R&B sucks!
I mean there's a couple of people that can flow
but for the most part, the genre sucks
Just a bunch of people singin over rap beats
Get a old rap record? Sing over it!
Now everybody talk about their label, label this, label that, hey
Smokey Robinson wasn't singin about Motown!
Listen, the Isley Brothers wasn't goin, 'Teaneck in the motherfuckin house!'
The Jacksons wasn't singin about Epic
because nobody gave a fuck!

*Sigh* When is Chris Rock doing another special? The man is "on point," as you youngins say.