I had to Musiq Soulchild it, it’s been like 3 years why break format? Anyway, growing up I was a big R&B fan. By default really, I had no music of my own so I borrowed my parents cassettes (omg am I old now?) and my sister’s CDs. (My 7 year old nephew uses Spotify…. kids these days, okay maybe I am old). I’m not one of the super nostalgic types, while I can listen to 90s R&B and engage in online debate for several productive work hours, I’m also able to listen and enjoy current music. It seems like ever since Nas declared hip hop dead and proceeded to make a mediocre album to serve as a eulogy, the line in the sand was drawn and now with social media to echo bitterness no one seems to like…. Anything. Ironically, as we have more access to music than ever before, people still live in the past, listening to 90s R&B and telling kids to get off the lawn. It’s perplexing to pay $10 a month for a streaming service and only listen to music you purchased 20 years ago. But hey, not my ears. As someone who chooses to live in the now, I’ve just come to accept that R&B has been…. sundered. In every era, there was one dominant sound whether it was doo wop, electropop, or new jack swing and slow jams. This era is a bit more scattered. For example there’s….
R&Buckfoy- This is probably the one that history will sadly label the era as a whole. Dudes are too tough to love, women are just hoes, bitches and thots anyway. Popular with the League of Ash-assins and dudes who never got hugs in high school.
Ex: Some dude who isn’t Chris Brown & French Montana -Can’t Trust Thots
PBR&B- or Alternative R&B, will be the other label that would be used to describe this era of music 20 years from now. A break from the previous era where the stars were confident heartthrobs, now are much more weird and vulnerable.
Ex: The Weeknd weeknds Drunk In Love
R&ebriated- Artists these days do love….. Being drunk. A growing trend to sing the praises of alcohol that doesn’t pay you to do so. *Insert Kermit Meme*
Ex: Elijah Blake x I Just Wanna
R&Biguous- Like in the early 2000s when every pretty brown skinned girl with a 24 inch sew in got a record deal, these days it’s racially ambiguous girl next door types. Unfortunately not much different from the Ashantis, Brooke Valentines, Ameries, Niveas, this pretty faces don’t carry much of a tune either
Ex: Jhene Aiko – You Vs Them
Hard&B- A confusing bunch, they can sing but think singing is soft so they try to over compensate their street cred. It didn’t feel forced when Nate Dogg did it but then you see like a Chris Brown do it and it’s like, cmon bruh.
Ex: Pictures say a thousand words
Slur&B- It’s not really singing you’re just kinda dragging your voice over music that sounds like a water level in Super Mario Bros. This Drake’s fault.
Ex: Post Malone – White Iverson
White&B- aka Blue Eyed Soul or as I like to call #SneakyAthletic R&B, is some of your typical R&B except because it’s a white man singing it, it’s much more popular. It’s why Tank got lawn furniture in his living room and Sam Smith has Grammys in his. No shade tho, it’s probably my favorite playlist on Spotify
Ex JMSN- Street Sweeper
R&Barz- Only way to describe whatever it is when people are basically singing rap lyrics over club beats
R&90s- For those who can’t get with the new new, plenty of their favorite artists are still kicking…..except they’re still doing the same thing they were doing 20 years ago.
Ex: Toni Braxton & Babyface – Roller Coaster
Then of course, there’s Neo Soul, but they saw the storm cloud and hopped on their lifeboat a decade ago. They long gave up chasing hits and selling their souls to sell records (sideeyes Usher), they have their fan bases and will shut down a House of Blues in a second.
So what happened to the R&B we knew and loved? It still exists but to my point about neo soul it’s much more of a niche genre. Art reflects the times, and really, people just find love boring. Sure, a good breakup song will get some spins but a song like All of Me is a rare exception (because people love they ass some Chrissy). Also, society as a whole has become increasingly narcissistic, songs are no longer about being vulnerable and wooing a woman, it’s more I know you want me so just pull em to the side. Then of course, there’s just a lack of appreciation for greatness…..but that’s another post entirely. Maybe. If I get around to it. I’m busy.