Will Classic “Black” Radio Exist in 15 Years??


Close your eyes, take a second and think back to Black Radio in 1995. On one station that plays current Urban hits (we’ll call this station “Station New Music”) you hear Jodeci, Snoop Dogg, LL Cool J, Mary J. Blige and some Janet Jackson and Mariah Carey thrown in for good measure. A little further down the dial you have your typical “V103 – Urban Contemporary” station (we’ll call this “Station Dusties”) where you hear some current Luther, Whitney, along with some classic Stevie, Marvin and Aretha (notice, no last names needed.) Before you get too comfortable, open your eyes and figuratively turn on those same stations today.

In 2010 if you turn to “Station New Music”, not only is the selection more narrow than its ever been (in regard to variety), its nearly impossible to imagine how a lot of today’s music would be played on “Station Dusties” 15 years from now in 2025.

Can you imagine what “Station Dusties” will sound like in 2025? Will the 9am – 9pm be filled with this past decades hits like “Laffy Taffy”, “Hot in Herre” and Ciara’s “Goodies”? Will the slow jam/“quiet storm” after 9pm section be filled with radio anthems like “I’m in Love With A Stripper”, “Shawty is a 10” and “Birthday Sex??” Think about it, what songs from 2000 – 2010 will be considered a classic or “an oldie, but goodie” in 2025.

I ask these questions because as much as today’s music is about what’s hot or relevant in this social/news cycle, it has really moved away from being crafted music to simply being manufactured “microwave hot” songs. As a DJ, I talk to people about their views on music. One conversation not long ago with a Sprint representative (while I was in the Sprint Store) was that in her opinion people don’t care about whether music is “good” or not, they just want to have fun. She continued to say “think about it, whatever could be done musically has already been done. There’s nothing new left to do, so what are people left with.” I didn’t debate her position, but my initial thought is that if we as humans really believed there was nothing new left to do we would still be living in caves, playing with 2 sticks to get fire while wearing bear skin.

However, I do believe that she has a point. Not that I believe that there’s no new ground to break, but I do believe that many artists are more caught up in “what’s hot” than in breaking new ground (personal note – I don’t consider Auto-tune songs breaking new ground.)

My main purpose for writing this is that it really wouldn’t matter if all of the song writers, singers, rappers and DJ’s got together and said “we’re only going to give people quality music”, that wouldn’t change things in the least. There are still independent artist and some major artists who produce quality and potentially timeless music. Some people say that it’s all about exposure & marketing, but I don’t totally agree with that either. I believe that it’s the old “supply and demand” formula. Simply put, the people that listen to radio stations and consume music are the one’s that are ultimately responsible for what gets played and what doesn’t.

To me, the solution to this is similar to the solution that I’ve stated in previous blog entries about the state of music. We as individuals must demand more from our own music likes and dislikes and set our own personal bar for what does and doesn’t get played or purchased by us. In the event that we don’t change our personal standard for what’s considered good music, we are not only killing the future of Classic Soul radio, but future generations won’t have a measuring stick as to determine what a good standard for quality music really is.

Its up to us as consumers to not just “live for the day” as it relates to music, but we also must make sure that we conserve the institution that great African-American artist set for us in the 1900’s. Who will be the Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole, James Brown, Gladys Knight, Chaka Khan, The Temptations, et al of the 21st Century? So, next time you’re blasting  “Daddy’s Home” by Usher, “Pretty Boy Swag” by Soulja Boy or “Massive Attack” by Nicki Minaj give some thought to the future of Black Radio. Oh yeah, think about progressing “Black music” for the next generation wouldn’t be a bad idea either.

The same way that planting a tree preserves the forest or using less plastic preserves the ecology, the choices that we make in music today will either destroy or cultivate Black music radio/culture moving forward. Much love, take care of one another and remember – “we all we got”…VA

Oh yeah, R.I.P. Guru from Gang Starr – a true lyricist. Check out a blog about him and his passing from national tastemaker and blogger Audarshia Townsend… http://312diningdiva.blogspot.com/2010/04/deejays-reflect-on-rap-icon-gurus.html

Related Information:

“From Nancy Pelosi: Death to Music Radio?”



7 Responses to “Will Classic “Black” Radio Exist in 15 Years??”


  2. Fantastic post, Vince, and I expected no less from you.

    I agree on all of your points, that’s exactly why I’ve completely given up on what’s now considered “urban” music.

    In fact, when that term was coined I knew that particular genre was in trouble. The music industry has lumped R&B, soul, hip-hop and Neo-soul all together so they can put it on one radio station.

    It’s a sad state of affairs all right, and I seriously doubt 50, 60 years from now anyone will remember who the hell Rhianna is.

  3. Milo Edwards Says:

    I’ve moved on from what I use to know as radio! It’s the who moved my cheese method of living. We must go with the flow and actually I don’t miss the radio I use to know. I presently listen to iTunes Radio, “All Classic R&B Slow Jamz” it’s great and commercial free. I love music, so when the music moves I move.

    Right now I have a nice home on iTunes but if they move my cheese, I’ll go find more. I’m old school and will always have it and if they really get to tripping I have 5 ipods full of dope music from Nat King Cole to Lil Wayne!

  4. Music is like thumb tacks that mark significant periords and momments in your life. It bridges one generation to another and it fuels every type of emotion available. Somewhere there was a break from the inner voice, the soul expressing its voice to the commerical, formula, image driving artistic hand selected from the momment. Sadly there music and talent of yesterday is relegated to “underground”, the so called neo-soul (which is becoming diluted) genre. People have too many distractions be it computers, corporate pressures or simply the drive to have more. They don’t want music to make them think, nor movies for that matter, they don’t want change, they want their music like the like their Big Mac in a value meal. This generation has already been trained to incline their ear to the Weezys of the world, they want to fit in not out. They want the emsemble movies about Blacks at a Funeral or a Tyler Perry feel good to anesthetize themselves from the realties of the day. Radio is just trying to surive the “go along to get along.” I have hope that enough folks with real taste who can still remember the Isleys, the P Funk, the Tina Maries of the day to be in the finanical postion to anoint the Julie Dexters to encourge the Mint Conditions and support the Charlie Wilsons. Until now thank God for online radio like Swank Society or music across the pond in Superfly Radio or even Columbia College’s WCRX. PS. Save VH1 Soul another case in point of quality being pushed out for who knows SoulTrain reruns. Thanks for sharing VA, this topic hit a nerve.

  5. Chontei Driver Says:

    It’s a combination of the supply, and demand formula, and generational too. In my youth, I was exposed to “Good Music.” To name a few: The Isleys, Earth Wind & Fire, The O’Jays, Oneway, The Temptations, Stevie, Marvin Gaye, Smokey, Teddy, Chaka, Patrice Rushen, Miles Davis, Billie Holiday, and the list goes on, and on. What I have seen in the newer generations is most simply lacked continuous exposure to quality music versus the mainstream music. They think what they are listening to is the standard, because they do not know what the TRUE standard was. Because most radio stations have to cater to the mainstream, and the what’s hot now format, I rarely listen to local stations anymore. It is either Satelite Radio, or CD’s I rotate. I’m listening to a large variety of artists, along with alot of imports, underground & up and coming artists, or people most have not heard of. Lately, “Good Music” has been like looking for a needle in a haystack.

    To answer your question at the beginning, “Will Classic Black Radio Exist in 15 years?” It will all depend on your definition of Classic…CYD

  6. joysrantlist Says:

    I love this blog – it encapsulates so many things that I have felt about today’s music. I agree that money talks. I actually will buy the CD’s of artists that I want to support – Sade, Maxwell, Rafael Saadiq, Erykah Badu, etc. I try to get the kids I mentor to appreciate the older music. One thing that encourages me is that they still recognize and appreciate old favorites like Frankie Beverly and Michael Jackson. But they also get hypnotized by the “goons” and “goblins” on the radio. I actually tricked my mentees – they have so much fun playing “Rock Band” at my house that they didn’t notice I had them playing “Pick up the Pieces”, “Shining Star”, and a few others by EWF and James Brown. Don’t sleep on Stevie Ray Vaughn’s blues skills either! They now appreciate the complexity of playing actual instruments, and we had a discussion about synthesizers, autotune, and real talent.

    Hey, I know, it’s a video game, but I gotta work with the tools I have. 🙂

  7. We have always had similar views on music. I am ready for some new radio station formats to come about. We already have “Urban” and Urban AC. Well I do believe with the growing age of hip hop there are those of us that Like ole skool hip hop mixed in with new. We need a station that will play some Jay, Naz, Common mixed in with some older R&B and some older hip hop like Gang Starr, WU, DE LA SOUL, and the list could go on. My mom doesn’t want that but I am 35 and I like good old music and good new music. We will have to watch and see what happens.

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