Today CNN's John Blake had an article called "Where is the love in R&B music?" on www.cnn.com. I've been wondering what happened to love in R&B music since the end of the New Jack Swing era (if by some unfortunate chance you don't know about New Jack Swing, I direct you to the website New Jack Swing 4 Ever.) Some of today's so-called R&B artists don't want to seduce their listeners anymore with knee weakening ballads, or create lyrics that make you want to cuddle with your significant other like "Tender Love" by The Force MDs, "Two Occassions" by The Deele, or "Shower Me with Your Love" by Surface (I can go back to the 70s, but let me get to my point). Instead of music that made us feel adored and warm inside, we have music that tells us that the only things that are important are getting money, showing off our money, partying, and getting laid - Blake's CNN articles references Miguel's "Quickie" and Chris Brown's "No Bullsh!t" as two offenders. Of course, there are plenty more.
Why has LOVE left R&B music? Personally, I believe the love left when the smaller, black record companies (think Uptown Records) were gobbled up by bigger record companies (Arista, Columbia, MCA, etc). With the black record companies gone, black artists and their music weren't the priority anymore. Black artists had to create hits (not music, hits) that the Columbias and Aristas of the world could profit from. What made R&B special - harmonizing, great lyrics, great bands - quickly vanished in the quest to make money (or in the effort to save money as well). When you have someone with a narrow or stereotypical view of another's culture, and you combine that with trying to make money - you are asking for trouble. Let's not forget to throw in that sex sells, and young consumers, who are more likely to buy CDs and download music, tend to be only interested in what is hot right now, and what quickly catches their attention.
What can we do about it? Well, thankfully there are artists that put out REAL R&B - R&B that makes us want to light candles, burn wood in the fireplace, and kiss our S.O.S on the couch. Artists such as Jill Scott, Maxwell, Robin Thicke, and Melanie Fiona create delicious songs that everyone can listen to, and make you believe that love indeed exists ("Love After War" by Robin Thicke is my jam right now). Buy the CDs of these artists, and request that your favorite radio station play their songs. Make sure younger people (yes, I said younger, because I am no where near old) listen to these artists, and let them know about Teddy Pendergrass, The Commodores, and Marvin Gaye. Let the record companies see that we want QUALITY, and that we want our R&B to love us the way it used to.
What are your thoughts? Why do you think love is gone from R&B music, and what do you think we can do about bringing it back?
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