>R.I.P. Rhythm and Blues :(

Posted: August 1, 2010 in 70's, 80's, genre, music, new, old, RandB, school

>What has happened to my R&B? My beautiful genre in which I could always rely on to take me through a range of emotions from listening to one mix tape/CD. Gone are the days when I could get into my car, turn on my radio, and not have to change the station until a commercial break. Now, I’m scanning through 10 presets in my car and I’m struggling to find something worth listening to for more than a few minutes.

I know some of my younger peers are saying to themselves, “Man, you’ve just reached that age when you think your music is the end-all, be-all”. Well, that’s kind of true, but only to a certain extent. Sure, I do think the 70’s and 80’s are the two best decades of music, but that’s not why I am no longer feeling today’s R&B.

I’m off the R&B bandwagon now because it’s so unrecognizable from what it used to be. Today’s R&B shouldn’t be classified as such. I think it’s time a new genre is created. For one: you don’t even have to know how to sing because your voice can just be auto-tuned. Keith Sweat couldn’t sing, but that didn’t stop him from trying. LOL! He was even so bold as to join forces with Gerald Levert and Johnny Gill, two of the best singers of their era. That’s “confidence” defined right there. Or “clueless”. But, I digress.

Usher and Will.I.Am have the “OMG” song and John Blu is “In Love With Yo Booty”. I won’t lie to you, but I actually like both songs. I wonder if Roger Troutman’s estate is receiving royalties from them and T-Pain for these computerized voices? If they only had iPhone apps when he was alive…

Anyway… Secondly, and most importantly: R&B no longer makes me think in the abstract. It doesn’t paint a picture. Now, it’s in-your-face. Nothing to the imagination, just “boom”, here it is.

No one is finding “Love on A Two-Way Street” any more like Stacy Lattisaw once did. Or finding “One Hundred Ways” to please their woman like James Ingram. Jonathan Butler once sung about a woman named “Sarah” that he missed so badly. He loved her so much that he said her name twice and asked, “what happened to you and I?” and “how did the fire die?”. That’s emotion. (I just took some people back with that “Sarah, Sarah” reference. Yeah, you’re smiling right now if you’re old school). That’s putting something on a listener’s mind and taking them back to a place in time to where they lost someone. And even if you were too young to have experienced love yet, you knew how serious it was because of the soulful lyrics you heard from the crooners and divas.


Nope. Not these days. In fact, this week, I heard the following songs during my 12 minute commute to work: Trey Songz’s “Neighbors Know My Name” which is basically about a guy who’s so good in bed the neighbor’s know him by name from his woman screaming it. Then I heard The Dream’s “Make-Up Bag” which is about a guy who stayed out late and is in his woman’s dog house, so he leaves $5,000 on her make-up bag to keep from hearing her mouth. Next was “Lil’ Freak” by Usher and some female which is about a menage a trois, I think. I know he mentions girls kissing and putting their hands in each other’s pants or something. I can’t say for sure because at this point, I’ve changed the station to 105.9 for sports talk during my last few minutes of the ride to work.

Not one song left anything to the imagination. One was about a man with skills so good the neighbors hear him having sex. The second is about a guy who stayed out too late, but doesn’t care because he can buy his woman’s affection with five grand. The last is about a guy going out and picking up two women who are tongue wrestling in the corner of the club.

No songs about heartache like “How Can You Mend A Broken Heart?” by Al Green or Lisa Lisa and Full Force being “All Cried Out”. No songs showing appreciation for a love like Larry Graham’s “One In A Million” or Atlantic Starr’s “Masterpiece”.


Just songs about either having sex, paying a woman hush money, and three-way sex. Wow. Less than 12 minutes of radio.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not necessarily knocking the songs. They’re not my cup of tea, but that doesn’t mean these artists don’t have a right to perform these songs. My question is: is this R&B? I’m guessing the average teen doesn’t even know what “R&B” stands for. Not “Rims & Bentleys”. Not “Racks & Booty”. Not “Reefer & Blunts”. “R&B” stands for “Rhythm & Blues”. It was a combination of jazz and blues that started in the 40’s. Over time, it has been generalized as a genre.

Think of old school R&B as a tree. Back in the day, there were branches that stemmed from the root of R&B. There was Funk: Cameo, Brothers Johnson, and George Clinton. There was Disco: Donna Summer, Gloria Gaynor, and A Taste of Honey. There was Soul: Ray Charles, James Brown, and Aretha Franklin. There was New Jack Swing: Guy, Bell Biv Devoe, and Tony Toni Tone’!

Maybe it’s time we create a new branch of R&B for today’s sound. Sex Anthems? Grindin’? Dip & Sip? (referencing dancing and drinking in a club)

Hey, I’m just trying to help the young school find something to call their own. And before you under-30 people start hating on this blog, I want you to think of the last wedding you attended and think of what was sung during the ceremony. Was it “Spend My Life With You” by Eric Benet and Tamia? Was it Mul-ty’s “Looking For Love”? Yeah, admit it. You need us over-30 people 🙂

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