If you’re a multi-genre music fan, then you know the subject of a hot debate here of late is the diluting of R&B music and its fight to compete with the wildly popular, ever-growing “pop” music genre who (along the way-has magnetically created musical allies with hip-hop that as a result; much of the concentration on music is placed on pop and hip-hop turned hip-POP).
This subject always comes up (with celebs/artists, fans, music critics and execs) and one such that I’ve had several pow-wow’s with some friends of mine (who too, are music lovers).
One hot subject of debate is what’s happening to R&B music and why, today, it’s fading to back.
I don’t think the artists are being as innovative as they should be. Even on the hip-hop side, the records have been dumbed down so that very few really smart records get through, like a J. Cole, Kendrick or a Big Sean. But on the singing side, it has been worse. No one has been able to pull up with a defining record that’s a game-changer. That’s what R&B needs right now. Guys that we were hoping were going to be that have been very slow to get out of the box again, like Frank Ocean and Miguel. And it’s partially radio’s fault. They’re not so open to playing [adventurous] things until they’re big somewhere else.
Urban has a fundamental problem trying to find its place, and it absolutely is the fault of the system: You could cut the exact same songs with a black female singer that I cut with Ariana, and they would be nowhere as big. But I also feel that we have to get a little more adventurous in urban. When you think about groups like The Fugees and Outkast — where are those groups today? Where’s that person who has that voice like Lauryn Hill who can be as f–ing grimy and “hood” as possible, but then come out with a song like “Killing Me Softly” that was No. 1 around the world? The only true R&B that’s out there right now, I hate to say it, are legacy things. But kids know no genre-specific boundaries, so you’re getting more hybrid acts like The Weeknd or Janelle Monae, which wouldn’t necessarily sit at just R&B [radio]. At some point, you’re going to see the hybrid things break out.
…So in response to all that (and inspired by a recent article that just came out on Billboard with music exec Wendy Goldstein ) I decided to ‘monologue’ my dialogue via podcast for my music lovers, celebs, and artists who as well, find themselves wrapped up in deep thought or conversation about the same-and give yous my spiel.
In short, my spiel basically being this:
“Music is universal”—period. That’s all it was thought to be with (nothing left or needed to be added behind those three words).
And although that still stands true (that music is universal in that there’s not a person in the world who, no matter their preferred genre, cannot relate to/feel at least one song by which they don’t identify, however, as our universe has evolved (via technology and our new social systems), music has gone into a kind of “nucleus” into this circle of [music being] “universal” in that “pop music” has become the new “universal” music (thus washing away R&B and hip-HOP/rap, rock, soft-rock as we once knew it.
Everybody needs a thrill.
We all got a space to fill.
Everybody can’t be on top. The loving aint real funky, unless it’s got that “pop.”
As you’ll hear in my segue into this subject on this podcast, it was Prince who coined the lyrics of this new “pop” life we’re living now [thus forcing its way to interrupting or ability to critically think and aesthetically and organically feel, which, in turn-because of technology and our new social systems]; it has “popped” us all out: television, social media, technology etc,].
And (as per my take on what’s going on in R&B, soft-rock, rock vs pop and hip-pop; this is the very reason (I feel) R&B has been turned down (while, as we fall deeper and deeper into “pop life” and turning up), it’s been pushed to a volume of ‘1’ and standing lonely and alone while pop (who-thanks to our social systems, technology and “pop life”) has bullied it’s way to being THEE “universal music” with an almost: “You’d better get down or lay down” force that’s magnetically forced hi—HOP, soft rock and even rock, to change its tune (if it wants to be heard).