SUNDAY, JULY 29, 2012
R&B Artists Have Made R&B Virtually Non Existent!
I recall hearing rap music for the first time when I was in high school in the early 70’s. From an MC/DJ that lived one or two blocks over from me by the name of DJ Hollywood. This was not in the Bronx, which gets the credit for rap music’s origin…???… This was Harlem! Rap music did not hit the national scene until 1979 with the Sugar Hill Gang’s “Rappers Delight” mega record. For my generation R&B reigned supreme as the music of choice. With artists like James Brown, Earth, Wind & Fire, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Gladys Knight & The Pips, The O’Jays…etc… Rap had its own unique zone as did R&B. As rap kept grinding to prove all the haters wrong about it being just a fad; R&B had this false elitist security that it was always going to be the dominant one over rap. To R&B’s defense part of its demise; by comparison it was extremely cost effective to make a rap record than an R&B record. That’s a story for another time. For this blog I want to deal with the mind set as to why R&B has fallen into the pits. R&B artists allowed record labels to influence them to compromise their art in a major way for the sake of cutting costs. R&B artists began to buy into the mindset that rap and R&B is virtually the same. That is so far from the truth. Rap’s uniqueness, in my opinion, is the ability to take almost anything and turn it into something very special. That in itself is a special gift that only a few have done excellently. R&B on the other hand is first and foremost about connecting into the emotions of its target audience. A spouse to spouse or intended someone, plays a very important part in the connection with R&B. Of course there are exceptions. How else could one explain a brilliant record like Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On”?…IT CONNECTED EMOTIONALLY!!! to just about everyone who heard it. R&B artists started to falsely believe; since rap music was easy as well as cheaper to make, r&b should adopt the same formula. The cheaper part I will agree with. Easy? Not so fast. Again, only a few rap artist to this day have done it brilliantly! When R&B compromised its own integrity for another it clearly did not understand, it started the beginning of today’s results. So, until true R&B artist(s) rediscover the essence and integrity of what R&B really is without regard to another genre, it will continue to be a lost art form.