My real problem with today’s R&B…

(Previously posted as a Note on my Facebook Profile)

Let me just say this as a music lover and someone in the industry. There is room in the game for The Dream – he can have his minute and I will play his music and others that I don’t like because I play for the people.

The industry is missing a balance between style and substance. If there was as big of a radio/listener following for Eric Roberson, Raheem Devaughn, Raphael Saadiq, Anthony Hamilton and Dwele as there was for Ne-Yo, J Holiday, The Dream and the other sound alikes then I wouldn’t have a thing to say.

The lack of balance is probably the thing that disturbs me most because true song-writers (not hook writers), real singers (not moaners and hummers) would be able to shine as well.

In 2009 outside of Beyonce, Alicia Keys and John Legend (who are not my favorite artists either, but very talented in their own right) are about as far as it goes for substance in today’s R&B on the major rotation side. Everything is style now with no staying power. No one will care about “Rockin That Thing” by The Dream in 2 months because its a hook, its not a song.

As a DJ I have a hard time playing music from this decade because its so fad-like that it goes out of style in a matter of weeks. However, I can play 100’s of songs from the 80’s and 90’s that get a greater response than music made just last year, which in itself shows there’s a big difference between style and substance.

There’s nothing wrong with style, but as listeners we shouldn’t allow the radio and videos to do the thinking for us – we should have a higher level of discretion to know what’s real and what’s processed. Just a thought…VA

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3 Responses to “My real problem with today’s R&B…”

  1. Thomas Bowling Says:

    VA I can agree with you in the since of how some people in the crowd wants to hear the now stuff, that just sounds bad. I think that’s another reason I am a disco nut, and still listen to a lot of stuff from the 80’s Everything now a days is just a BEAT. The proof is in the puddin. On youtube there is a guy that made a song called Chakaran. I ask anybody out there to go listen to it. You will find out that this guy is not saying one word (not in any language). He is mumbling, and has nice girls dancing behind him, and has a decent beat. But he has sold millions. When people ask me y I do not spin rap, I tell them, most of it is not good music to me. I love what I love and won’t change that.

  2. VA, I am just reading through your posts today and will provide substantive feedback about the blog via e-mail. Let me say that you are absolutely correct about the music today and I need to share this post with my soon-to-be 18-year-old son. We discuss the quality of today’s vs. yesterday’s music all the time and I think there is some irony in the fact that someone his age “gets it.” He is a big fan and student of the music of the 80s and the 90s. A testament to the fact that music in that era was more about quality and a sustainable message than this flash in the pan stuff we hear today. Not knocking it either…I’m just sayin’…

    Great post,
    L

  3. Andrea Horton Says:

    Agreed. I agree that there is a place for today’s “R&B” (although I disagree with your characterization of Ne-Yo who I happen to think is mad talented and has written songs for Alicia, Beyonce and others). I also agree that the best artists out there are not getting the air rotation that B, and others are getting. I find myself conflicted about this, as I have a small amount of what many would consider “hot garbage” in my own collection (read some Bobby Valentino…I know). Raheem DeVaughn, Dwele, Goapole, Amel Larrieux, even Jill Scott don’t get enough airplay.
    I have struggled with this since college. The dichotomy is a little more complex than I would like to think it is. I often find myself caught between good taste and a fat beat. I wouldn’t buy the Dream’s album, but I am not always quick to turn the radio station when the song comes on. I have exercised restraint on ITunes as of late because I recognize that I am not going to be longing to hear “Rockin That Thang” in a year, like I still long to hear P.Y.T. (my personal theme song by the way :).
    Interesting points, which all lead to one certain conclusion…we are becoming our parents 😉
    -Dre Horton

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