Adult R&B Isn’t Dead. It’s Just Having A Mid-Life Crisis (And So Am I) » VSB

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Adult R&B Isn’t Dead. It’s Just Having A Mid-Life Crisis (And So Am I)

Mary J. Blige (Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)


My regular rotation of music rests firmly planted somewhere in the 1990s, with pinches of the 1980s and beyond.

When I cue something up on Songza? “Essential ‘90s R&B,” “‘90s R&B Wake-Up Call,” or “This is How We Do It: R&B Dance Party,” are the playlists of choice.

I don’t deviate too much from a good thing; I like to stay within the realm of contemporary R&B. I watched the VMAs and wished for better days when the Soul Train Awards were still a thing. I watch the BET Awards to see which of our sacred cows are being honored, or to see who BET has managed to patch back together for two to three minutes for nostalgia’s sake.

Somewhere around 2005, I stopped checking for new music, and recommitted myself to the songs of my childhood and the things that came before. It’s not uncommon for me to answer my phone with an abrupt “hold on,” because Anita Baker’s “Rapture” is playing too loudly in the background or because I gotta finish singing along to the ad-libs on Toni Braxton’s debut album.

I don’t want to know a Janet Jackson album without Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis on production. While Mariah is rumored to have recently decided to stop collaborating with Jermaine Dupri (tragically undervalued producer, by the way) because nobody copped the last album, I am just happy for the greatness that is the “Fantasy,” and for all of the Puff Daddy (yes, I’m a purist) remixes that have dotted the R&B landscape for years. Where might I be if it were not for the pitchiness that embeds Total’s three party harmonies, making me feel like I, too, could have a successful singing career? How else would I reconcile my adolescent awkwardness without the aid of Brandy’s “I Wanna Be Down”? SWV. Luther. En Vogue. Phyllis Hyman. Kenneth “Babyfae” Edmonds. And Whitney. Sweet Whitney.

So the other day I was organizing my iTunes and I came across the soundtrack portion of my collection. And I was jamming. In fact, I was jamming so hard that the music coming from my stereo knocked something off a shelf in my room. But I can’t help it, if wanted to; I wouldn’t help it, even if I could — my life’s mantra, first learned from classic R&B. So anyway, my iTunes catalog includes soundtracks to the following films: Boomerang (1992). Waiting to Exhale (1995). Soul Food (1997). Love Jones (1997). I looked at them, all lined up together and thought, “What a wonderful world.”

I won’t dare ask you to choose between them. (I might ask you to rank them, though.) But the better question is: How did we fall so far so fast?

For whatever reason, the internet has been sprinkled with a lot of 1990s nostalgia in the last couple of weeks. It was especially well-timed coming off the Unauthorized Saved By The Bell Story last weekend. New York magazine’s blog Vulture is reliving the 1994-95 seasons of network TV (think Friends, Party of Five, season 5 of Beverly Hills 90210. My So-Called Life, ER, etc.). just did a retrospective on New York Undercover (R.I.P. Det. Eddie Torres.) Certainly, the pop culture landscape has changed a lot since then, especially with the advent of reality TV, and it’s no secret that Black folks are winning at a losing game with all of the shows that have been erected in our supposed likeness.

And of course, music culture has certainly changed considerably as well. Napster pushed single-based culture to the forefront; the “BEYONCE” album is probably the first time in a long time that any of us really had to consume an album in its totality, which is part of the reason why it was such a sensation. (Editor’s note: You’re forgetting about MBDTF. It’s ok, though.) As the youth market become more powerful because of its buying power, we’ll probably on the receiving end of even more flash-in-the-pan creative output. That sucks.

And that’s the reason why Babyface isn’t charting like he used to. That’s why Toni Braxton is doing reality TV and duets with Trey Songz. It’s why Tamar, though she has a great voice, is as popular as she is. It’s why nobody cares about Mariah’s duet with Miguel. It’s why people are
trying to make Michael Jackson “relevant” by adding Justin Timberlake to tracks. A lot of people mistakenly believe that R&B is dead when it’s just quieter than it used to be, because marketers have stopped marketing to grown ups, and the grown ups in the game are having identity crises.

Times changes, people change, music changes. I’ve come to accept all of this, which is why my iTunes stands as a tribute to yesteryear, when K-Ci and Mary were soundtracking hood love that’s kind of wonderful for all the wrong reasons, and kneepads were about fashion, not safety. I will continue to enjoy the classics, with album covers featuring the very best of color blocking, assorted plaid patterns, ripped high waist jeans, shoulder pads, and Fashion Fair makeup. Music with dance brakes, and horn solos, and the music videos that had elaborate, yet oddly compelling story lines (Aaron Hall’s “I Miss You,” comes to mind) or were merely testaments to the wonders of emerging CGI technologies.

I love the 90s. And I miss them.

Maya Francis

Maya K. Francis is a culture writer and communications strategy consultant. When not holding down the Black Girl Beat for VSB, she is a weekly columnist for Philadelphia Magazine's "The Philly Post" and contributes to other digital publications including xoJane, Esquire, and Sometimes TV and radio producers are crazy enough to let her talk on-air, and she helped write a book once. She cites her mother and Whitley Gilbert as inspirations.

  • “I Love the 90s. And I miss them.” Exactly! Exactly to this whole article. I love 90’s R&B! R&B is just not what it used to be, but I know that it’s just the natural progression of things… I’m sure people that loved 80’s R&B/Soul were saying the same thing when 90’s R&B became the distinct sound it is/was… But I’m completely with you when you said you stopped checking for new music. The only new music I check for in R&B is anything Kem does.

    • LadyIbaka

      Oh mi gosh!! I LOVE Kem. My favorite songs from him: “Share My Life” & “Why would you stay”. His skin is sooooo mocha, LAWD!!!

      • Yesssss girl! Share my life is definitely in my favs as well. As well as Human Touch, Without You, Can You Feel It, and Into You. I need to stop lol, I’m about to go on a Kem marathon. He has so many awesome songs!

      • “Kem makes music for people who still plays CDs in their car” – Jozen

        • tgtaggie

          Jozen is right about Kem though. lol. Kem is our generation Al Jarreau

          • you can’t tell me NOTHING about Al Jarreau.

            WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE’RE in this love TOGEEEEEEETHER! lol

        • that would be me. lol

      • tgtaggie

        +1. Dude story is amazing. I think he was homeless at some point b/f he hit it big. “Heaven” is one of my all time favorites.

    • PhlyyPhree

      Kem makes me want to kill myself. His voice is….nice but EVERYTHING I’ve heard from him sounds like elevator/therapist office music. I just can’t.

      • Kem is nothing more than an Al Jarreau ripoff- there, I said it…

        • afronica

          But at least Al’s songs were different from each other. Kem OTOH…

          • Not quite. I have all of Al Jarreau’s studio albums from 1975-1990 on vinyl. As much as I like him, I can’t say that’s the case.

            No matter what producer he worked with- be it Al Schmitt, Tommy LiPuma, Jay Graydon or Nile Rodgers- all of them showed he never deviated from the sound he had. The same can also be said for his labelmate at the time, Michael Franks.

            • afronica

              I can see that point more for Michael Franks and Kem, not so much for Jarreau. I think there’s a difference between being trapped by your style (or only having three or four ideas musically) and having a distinctive sound.

              It could also have to do with Franks being more limited vocally than Jarreau. The word nasal was invented for Franks’s voice.

      • LOLOL! You know i’m not even hurt that you did my OG bae like that because I felt the same way when I heard his music some years back.We had a term in London- moist. I don’t know what the American equivalent is. But (one form of) a moist dude is that guy that tries too hard to holler and just comes across as desperate, slimy and creepy looking lol. The first time I heard him I was like who’s this moist dude? But then much later his stuff came up on a random playlist and I just appreciated it differently, then I fell in love!
        If you’re looking to try again try out his Intimacy: Album III. If you’re not, I aint mad :)

    • “I’m sure people that loved 80’s R&B/Soul were saying the same thing when 90’s R&B became the distinct sound it is/was…”

      Correction: Fans of 80’s R&B actually became fans of 90’s R&B- even though more than half of R&B from the 90’s era was as vapid and soulless as it was, LOL!

      • LOL!

        Yeah, I’m sure they became fans but I meant that they accepted it as it’s own R&B. Your last sentence completely sums up how I feel about modern R&B when you swap out the decades: Fans of 90’s R&B actually became fans of 00’s/10’s R&B even though etc.. The cycle continues :)


    Saints: LMAO

    • LadyIbaka

      Who are these?!?!?!?

      • Football teams. Oh, and sorry Wu Young, but J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS!

    • Val

      You can’t keep your boy out of the huddle?

      • So did we lose? Or did we get the ‘W’? Oh ok.

        • Val

          That’s my point. If you keep him off the field your team may have a chance this year.

          Tony Romo sucks. I’m glad I’m not a Cowboy fan.

          • You will not disrespect Cam Newton while I am able bodied and literate!!! Our team will be just fine with whoever is lined up at QB.

          • IcePrincess

            Romo looked like f*cking sh*t yesterday, and all days, really. Jones shoulda got rid of him yrs ago, instead he turned around & gave him all that money smh. It just doesn’t make any sense. I always knew romo wasn’t sh*t. Idk what took so long for ppl to see what I see.

  • LadyIbaka

    Soooo, the pic of Mary J and dude with them ashy lips had me at, why didn’t Mary tell dude his lips were cracking or at least have been kind enough to offer him some Vaseline.

    What is Luke James categorized as? Soul? That boy can blow! And he foine too. And articulate.

  • Msdebbs

    I love this article. Ty dolla, Chris Brown and August Alsina have collectively ruined R&B for me but artist like Luke James give me hope

    • BeautifullyHuman

      I dig Luke James. “Options” and “IOU” go hard. As for the rest you mentioned, they can miss me with the BS. Chris Brown is decent but he gets entirely too much credit for having a mediocre singing voice. I give him the dancing angle and the fact that he’s a songwriter, but I never got the hype.

      • Msdebbs

        He did a cover of Sam Smiths song stay with me it gave me a mugasm….check it out

        • BeautifullyHuman

          Dude can blow! I knew his voice was special when I saw this acapella video:

          • Deeds

            I’ve one of his songs before, but I’m really digging these two. Might have to look more of his stuff up.

        • Wild Cougar

          I am thankful for this because honestly, I cannot stand Sam Smith’s voice but I like the song.

      • IsitFridayyet?

        I think Chris Brown is talented but he always sounds like he sings with a lisp to me.

        • Lea Thrace

          I thought I was the only one that noticed that lisp.

    • If Luke James was white he’d blown up by now…. U know sneaky athletic r&b is all the rage

      • That last sentence is the truth though. It’s like Brent Barry has become the template for R&B. :)

    • tgtaggie

      What’s a August Alsina? All those dudes sound (Chris Brown, Trey, August) alike to me.

  • kidvideo

    Where do you go to buy a Sam Cooke album?

    A gold star to anyone who gets the reference.

    • TheOtherJerome

      You know, i thought she was hinting at the Luis Armstrong version.

      And since i don’t know much about history…… or music apparently…….

      ….I was surprised to find that the trt for Sam’s classic song is only 2:09?! Man those old school songs were short!

    • AlwaysCC

      why buy when i can just go to my parents’ house and steal their cd?! just kidding…i uploaded the CD to my computer YEARS ago…

  • On topic. Shoutout to my fellow Millennials! We outchea!!

    I like where music is going. Jazmine Sullivan is back on the scene again (praise BIG GAWD!) Sam Smith is slowly becoming a staple for me. Jessie J can SANG DOWN! You hear me?! SANG DOWN!!! Migos is still going strong in my car and I’m so glad that they are consistently putting out work that gets me pumped up to do mundane things like clean out my car. J.Cole and Kendrick are back in the studio. I feel like 2015 is going to be a marvelous year in music.

    I am excited!

    I love my 70’s tracks as well as my 90’s stuff. It’s still in my rotation and will stay there but I’m always hunting for new music to add to it. I’m always finding great stuff on SoundCloud! Right now I’m addicted to a young lady by the name of Rochelle Jordan. Very smooth. Very sultry. Heavy Aaliyah influences. Love herrrrr! I say anyone who is bemoaning new music is just stuck on what was. Which is cool. Rock what you like :-) However, don’t think that what’s on the radio is the end all be all. The messages from “back in your day” are still resonating loud and clear in music that the industry refuses to put on the stage.

    ETA Artists that are definitely awesome and killing the game (R&B and similar sounds)
    JP Cooper
    Luke James
    Chrisette Michelle
    V Bozeman
    JoJo (her rendition of Caught Up in The Rapture is flawless)
    Tori Kelly
    Frank Ocean
    Lianne La Havas
    Elle Varner
    Stacy Barthe

    I honestly think some of y’all are out here complaining just to complain. There’s no shortage of awesomeness in R&B that I can tell.

    • Fatai (and He Planned Us) covering His Eye is On the Sparrow
      Stacy Barthe- Extraordinary Love
      JP Cooper- The Only Reason
      Luke James- Mo Better Blues
      V. Bozeman & Timothy Bloom- Until the End of Time
      JoJo – doing a cover of SWV’s “Weak”

      • afronica

        Loving this list. I’ve only heard about a couple of these people, so now I’m set for a week of new music! Happiness! Thanks!

      • Fatai!! Yasss! She needs a record deal!

    • PhlyyPhree

      YES!! I’m sorry. I got unreasonably hyped for this list you just provided. The fact that I know approx 30% of the names on the lists makes me think we might have similar tastes which means I will give the rest of the folk on this list a chance in the hopes of finding something else to love.

      If any of them suck, I’m blaming you for the pain and suffering done to my ears though.

    • Deeds

      I upvoted this because of the suggestions. I like new music but not alot of what’s pop, but since I know some of these artists, I’ll have to check out some of the others.

    • tgtaggie

      Elle Varner is one bad chick. That is all.

      • saw elle varner walking around a club in dc about a year and a half ago. i tapped my brother and was like “damn she’s bad!” my brother was like “yea that’s elle varner.”

    • Wild Cougar

      Thank’s for the list ma’am, I just updated my collection.

    • NomadaNare

      In real life! R&B hasn’t died, it’s evolved. I had heard Rochelle Jordan a while ago, but am waiting for her to put out a cohesive project. Cat’s are still mining the 90’s sound and white people have even jumped on the bandwagon (like 20 years late, but whatever).
      Just off top:

      Frank Ocean is real out here in the game and I concur with your ups. Listen to Made in America (Ft. JayZ and Kanye West) (Sweet Baby Jesus…) or Voodoo and tell me R&B isn’t winning right now.

      Who doesn’t like Miguel’s entire Kaleidoscope Dreams album?

      Lucille Ghatti is a Soundcloud find, she came out with an album, Bad Manners that I posted on here last year. She also sounds similar to Aaliyah.

      Kelela channels like all of mid-90’s Janet. ALL OF IT.

      FKA Twigs is the current hit girl, but tell me that entire album isn’t the baby making album of the year (along with her two EPs)!

      Purity Ring is indie white people’s take on 90’s R&B. Not very vocal heavy, but the trap influence is heavy there.

      SZA is like Purity Ring, if Purity Ring could sing.

      Little Dragon is like Prince, if Prince were a little Asian woman raised in Switzerland. Look out for a track called Precious.

      Quadron is dope and sounds a little jazzy.

      I mean I could go on for days! I’m also excited about 2015, and thanks for the suggestions, some of these people I hadn’t heard of.

      • I couldn’t get into Purity Ring. Not my style. I’ve heard of Twigs and I’m actually more interested in her style, face, etc. than I am with her music lol I love her gap too!

        • NomadaNare

          Yeah, Purity Ring, takes a little because the lead really can’t sing that well. In other news, you made me go back and check out RoJo’s page and I didn’t realize she put out a couple of EP’s in 2011 and 2013. You have anything else you’re bopping to? Also, did you get a chance to hear Muhsinah’s old azz album? How you feel about St. Heron’s offerings?

          • Rochelle is amazing! I stayed up all night listening to her soundcloud when I stumbled across it a year ago. I love that feeling of being so enamored with an artist that I want more and more and more!!

            Alex Isley pops up on my iTunes and I forget I downloaded a few of her tracks. About Him is a favorite song from her. Very enchanting voice. This song is from her Dreams in Analog album. It’s free to download if you follow the youtube link.


            • NomadaNare

              I know that feel bro. Music does it to me too and this ish wins! You the real MVP.

  • BeautifullyHuman

    This article hits home. I was in my kitchen earlier cooking dinner, listening to my smooth R&B mix, which is comprised heavily of 90s music, and I was thinking what the h*ll happened to good music? I know “good” is subjective, but there was a time R&B was about love and recovering from heartbreak. Now, it’s about having both of your b*tches in the club knowing about each other, while ninjas have the audacity to claim “h*es ain’t loyal.”

    Anyway, I’m just thankful for the Eric Robeson’s and Marsha Ambrosius’s. Without them, I don’t know about the state of current R&B. I can deal with f*ckshit rap, but what I can’t deal with is terrible rap masquerading as R&B.

    If y’all haven’t checked Marsha Ambrosius’ and Eric Roberson’s new albums, bless yourselves. And check out KING as well. They’re h*lla dope.

  • nims

    this speaks to me “I stopped checking for new music, and recommitted myself to the songs of my childhood and the things that came before.”

    • Yeah. It speaks to a mind that’s died 50-70 years before the body. Get over yourself.

      • Deeds

        Wow, so harsh, what’s wrong with listening to what she likes? It’s not hurting anyone.

        • I remember when stuff like that was said to me 20 years ago but 30 something types, and I will be damned if I let such horrible things happen to the next generation. No, no, no one thousands times no. Why not just molest them for goodness sake? #nocountryforoldfogies

  • TheOtherJerome

    Everything from the past is seen through rose colored lenses. R&B doesn’t get the spin it used to, but it’s as adult as it ever was i think. Remember the 90’s was when R-Kelly WROTE “Age Aint Nothing But A Number” for Aaliyah! Man that dude is so scumy it’s almost hilarious. (the song is still the jam… but dang he’s awful)

    And you have K-CI in the picture for this article. The last Jodeci album had an oral chex interlude (after the party) with Devonte narrating.

    Point being though R&B was more prevalent and abundant back then, it’s “Adult” level is the same as now. The most popular R&B was never marketed to grown ups…….

    ……. unless you think “Freak Me” by Silk was meant only for 40 year olds.

    • BeautifullyHuman

      R&B definitely gets no spin unless you have satellite radio or radio stations that cater strictly to R&B. But hearing an R&B song on contemporary radio that’s not filled with cussin’ is a relic of the past.

      • I disagree.

        Chrisette Michelle and Ledisi and Elle Varner get play on popular Hip-Hop/R&B stations.

        • BeautifullyHuman

          Then your area is fortunate because not in my area. All contemporary stations out my way, save for one R&B station, only play Chris Brown, Ty$, T-fli, Trey Songz and some chick named Tashinae. Oh yeah, and Drake. You’re guaranteed to hear one of these songs no matter what time you get in the car.

          • I don’t think that R&B is lacking just because the genre is not as popular as it once was. The quality is definitely there. I ran through a very very brief list down thread. If we’re talking radio, then yes, you won’t be hearing any 90’s sounding tunes because it’s 2014 and as with all music, things shift. What my parents were listening to in the 70’s wasn’t what was resonating through their speakers in the 90’s. That’s to be expected.

            I’m not sure if the author wants the same sound as the 90’s to be present and popular in 2014 or if she wants her favorite artists to continue making music in 2014 and beyond. If it’s the former, that’s scrapped. Music is cyclical. Nothing new under the sun. Things get tweaked. Production changes. But, to expect that same sound 20 years later? No. If it’s the latter, then this too is scrapped. Artists grow and mature. Sometimes their music ages gracefully with them. Some artists get hip and realize their time has come and gone and they stick to their old stuff. But, artists from the 90’s had their run. New blood is here. Take it or leave it but don’t expect someone born in 1985 and after to start dropping some ish that sounds like someone who was born in a completely different era.

            • BeautifullyHuman

              I agree that there’s quality R&B still out there; however it’s not as accessible as Ty$ and Trey Songz. I listed two great new albums that dropped in the past month and a half. However, you won’t hear any of those songs on your contemporary radio stations that don’t cater to R&B.

              R&B outside the confines of Chris Briown and his ilk just doesn’t receive the same exposure and airplay as it once did. I’m fond of the days when there was a variety of music being played on the main contemporary radio station. Presently, that would include Breezy and Luke James.

              • Question, do you think that if Chris Brown & Ty $ were popular 20 years ago, would artists like D’Angelo, Silk, Boyz II Men, etc. not get air play?

                • BeautifullyHuman

                  They’d get there spin, but the era was also different as far as allowing diversity in genres. Back then, you had The Box and BET showing a diversity of videos. We all knock BET presently, but at one point that had a lot of music video programming that would expose the viewer to different genres of Black music.

                  Also, radio stations were playing Jodeci, Mary J., Lauryn Hill, Erykah Badu and Total on the same station. My thing is this…I don’t believe R&B is dead (for one the talent is always out there); however, the segment of R&B that receives the most exposure, I personally believe, is not truly reflective of the genre (a lot of contemporary R&B is so blended with rap and its culture). I get that things evolve, but the music that is receiving the most exposure is suffering in quality.

                  • My point exactly. The era was different. The quality has always been there and will continue to be there. Is it fair that music is being peddled off the way it is now? Probably not. But how can I fault great artists for coming up in this era of music? I can’t knock Chris Brown for being born when he was and being popular in this era. His experience in the industry is shaped by his superiors. If anything, the major labels are the ones at fault for the music you hear today. They are the ones with the major hand in how artists are molded, shaped, trained vocally, etc.

                  • Jay

                    You say that “the music that is receiving the most exposure is suffering in quality” but musical quality is not objective. Younger kids love what’s getting the most exposure. That is the EXACT reason why it gets the exposure that it does. You know that the generation before you said the same thing about your music right? And you talk about diversity and then you list Jodeci, Mary J., Lauryn Hill, Erykah Badu, and Total… where is the diversity again?? Those artists don’t make music in “different genres of black music” that is one genre. They all basically make the same type of music.

                    • BeautifullyHuman

                      Yes, those artists are in the same genre, but they also sound very different. Erykah Badu sounds nothing like Lauryn Hill and vice versa. My point was that at one time, different sounding R&B was getting mainstream play.

                      Not anymore. For the most part, mainstream R&B is using the same formula as rap music. Like I said upthread, love is now seemingly an afterthought. I understand that a certain demographic consumes this type of R&B, but what irritates me is the lack of balance. There’s been a shift in mainstream R&B that now calls its main demographic (read: buyer) b*tches on the regular. I’m not used to that type if singing. All I’m asking for is balance. For every act such as an August Alsina that gets spin on urban mainstream radio, why can’t there be a Luke James that gets the same love in return?

              • TheOtherJerome

                “R&B outside the confines of Chris Briown and his ilk just doesn’t receive the same exposure and airplay as it once did”

                Now that is true. In fact that’s true for basically all music genre’s. Clear Channel rules our world and they’ve decided that regardless if you like Rock, Hop-Hop or R&B, your going to listen to the same thing. It helps cross over acts like Rihanna sell gagillions (much respect) but its hard to find new stuff on the radio.

                Thats why Internet and satellite radio is best

                • Agreed. I don’t think it’s fair to say “music ain’t worth ish today” for this reason. The people who control the movement of music dictate what is popular rather than the audience more or less. It’s a different time and it’s so unfair to say that music is lacking because what you personally don’t enjoy isn’t being sold to you on popular air waves.

            • TheOtherJerome

              The thing is, many 90’s artists R&B or Hip Hop are still making music. You just have to keep up with them. Perfect example…… and your not going to believe this… but Krazy Drayz from Das efx is releasing new music!

              This track is him and “Smif n Wessoun”


              • But I said this lol Thanks for the heads up

                • TheOtherJerome

                  Yeah i was co signing in my own way.

                  Also, its an excuse to post a Das Efx video lol! How can that be wrong ? :-)

              • The problem is that tracks like this go double wood. They’re about 8 years from doing Vegas shows for fogies like us. Stop.

                • TheOtherJerome

                  “The problem is that tracks like this go double wood. They’re about 8 years from doing Vegas shows for fogies like us. Stop”

                  Noooo can’t stop won’t stop! lol. Hey i’m just happy dude is still making music. Why quit?

            • Slow down ma, u killing em

              • No one else is going to defend the awesome music out today. I am.

      • Um, Black popular music has been filled with cussing, obscenities and innuendo pretty much since Edison invented the phonograph, and somebody convinced some Negroes to sing onto wax. Stop acting brand new.

        • BeautifullyHuman

          No doubt Black popular music has always been filled with cussin’ and innuendo; however, I am talking about a lot of the mainstream R&B that’s currently being pushed.

          Love is now an afterthought. It’s not cool to be in love or sing about love anymore. Now, it’s about singing about “b*tches” and I use that literally. Sometimes when I hear some of these mainstream R&B songs, I can’t discern if I am listing to rap or R&B. I get if the younger generation loves it, but what I also don’t understand is the lack of balance. Have something else playing on mainstream radio that counters all the bishes and R&B thuggery.

          • Well, dudes are mad at women these days. Welcome to the modern era. Here’s a Galaxy phone, because I don’t mess with Apple too tough.

            • BeautifullyHuman

              Leave my autocorrect alone. Lmao.

              I’m kind of interested in a galaxy (they take great photos) but I love the aesthetics of the iPhone.

    • TheOtherJerome

      ….. But let me add one thing. Thats not to say there wasn’t any Adult level music then. It’s just that for every “Happily Ever After” by Case there was some ignant song by R kelly. Maybe I’m just hatin on the man lol

      • Jay

        Happily Ever After tho…**gets lost in nostalgia**

    • I do think people get nostalgia, ultra when it comes to the 90s. Long a** intros, the leaky faucet, the generic latina getting smanging interlude, and other just corny songs

      • And you forget the sleigh bells that were in 87% of songs from like 89-95. They suddenly appeared, then suddenly stopped in 1996. I blame the heavy snow that winter. LOL

        • You can also blame D.I.T.C. and Pete Rock for those sleigh bells- they started that sh*t, LOL!

      • Jay

        Nostalgia Ultra… I see what you did there.

    • Jay

      EXACTLY… R&B is as bad (or as good) now as it ever was. When you think of the 90’s you only think of the songs that you loved. You conveniently forget about the hundreds of sh*tty sh*tty songs that those timeless hits stood head and shoulders above. Personally I’m not into doing what EVERY generation does to the next generation, telling them that their music sucks. Like with hip-hop… I just feel lucky that the era that I grew up in had THE GREATEST songs and rappers in hip hop history and I feel like that is an objective fact. Biggie, Pac, Jay-z, Nas, Outkast, Goodie Mob, Mobb Deep, early DMX, Fugees, Scarface, Naughty By Nature, Tribe, Blackstar, … Nothing before or since trumps 90’s hip-hop. Instead of playing the elitist I lowkey feel sorry for kids listening to hip-hop now. I was talking to a 19 y.o. girl last week about hip-hop and she said that she couldn’t listen to Jay-z while telling me that I need to listen to Rich Homie Quan’s mixtape. I just wanted to give the poor thing a hug.

      • Be careful not to paint a broad brush of my generation. There are some Grade A lyricists doing awesome things in the studio. This is in the same vein as this R&B conversation. What record labels are willing to sell isn’t necessarily the best of the best. The industry is a different beast right now and for y’all to act like quality rappers would get play at ANY major label is unfair.

        • Jay

          Not saying that there isn’t talent out there. I give zero fucks about “the industry” and I don’t listen to radio. You’re talking to a guy who is UTTERLY amazed that we live in an age where I can download free, I repeat FREE entire mixtapes to my phone and get the same endorphin rush and goosebumps that I used to pay $12.99 for when I was younger and copping CDs. I take advantage of this.

          “Music junkie” is an extremely apt term and it describes me perfectly. I could never dismiss and write off new music because I’m in constant search of that next high.

          • I think you do write off new music when you say “she suggested I listen to Rich Homie Quan over Jay Z”. A teenager living today wasn’t around to live in the moment where Jay Z was at his prime. She is around now and for her, Rich Homie Quan is where it’s at.

            Y’all kill me with this mindset that kids of today are going to be interested in what you think is interesting.

            • Jay

              Rich Homie Quan is where it’s at for her… and that’s OK. Never said that it wasn’t, to her or in my comment. She was the one writing off Jay-z, which is sad to me because IMO he’s the greatest rapper of all time… once again, my opinion. I fuck with new music more than a lot of you youngins fuck with old music and I find that sad because, at least as far as hip hop goes, you guys missed out. You can’t deny that hip hop is in a period of limbo. Most of what’s out there is extremely commercialized and lacking in depth.

              • You think we’re missing out because you have lived through both eras though. How can we be missing something we didn’t ever have anyway? That music wasn’t for us. Do people of my age still bump it? Heck yes! Do people my age gravitate towards what’s hot right now? Of course! These are our peers just like Jay Z is yours.

                I don’t think we missed out on anything. Y’all had your time. Those songs resonate with you and your generation and that’s awesome. Now we have artists and music that resonates with us. Y’all can continue to ‘feel bad that we supposedly missed out’ but we’re good. We’re carving out own path in the industry. Y’all don’t have to like it to be perfectly honest. Y’all can continue to feel like the 90’s was the end all be all to hip hop. Cool. Still, we’re out here enjoying what’s in front of us.

                • Jay

                  Ermm…. why the hostility?? My point is that I see value in new music because yeah, I lived through both… I’m still alive now and the new music is still for me. “Yall had your time”??? Really?? That’s BS. That’s the same kind of close-minded thinking that people my age have when they say that your music ain’t sh*t. When exactly was my time? My n*gga… I’m still alive, so my time is now. Point is there is a wiiiiiiiide range of music spanning ages and genres. Me… personally, I want the best of it all, new and old and I don’t see why anyone else wouldn’t. What you’re doing is lumping me in with the OP and I guess everyone else who says that new music sucks.

                  • The hostility comes from the mindset of “oh my Lord, your generation is really missing out on the TRUE lyricism and TRUE lyrical depth, you all don’t know what good hip hop is because you weren’t there”.

                    Y’all act like people born after you can’t Google Jay-Z and pull up this man’s entire discography and listen at our leisure if we so choose. The music didn’t die just because it isn’t 1995 anymore.

                    I’m well aware that you and others are still alive but I’m speaking on the era of music you’re referencing and the age at which you were when it was dropping. That, is what I’m loosely saying was “your time”. I’m not trying to kill y’all off just yet. I have to get rid of those pesky Baby Boomers first ;-)

                    • Jay


                    • Jay

                      No need for hostility. Save that for those with that mindset like what you quoted above. You know… those words that I never said. You’re lumping me in with the “yall’s” and “them’s” that told you that your music sucks. You and young people like you are on one side saying “Leave us alone… keep that old a** sh*t” and people like the OP are the on the other side like “Real R&B/hip hop is dead. Where is the TRUE lyricism and soul”. I don’t get why either of you would unnecessarily limit the music you listen to. I’m in the middle with my headphones on like… whatever.

                      Jay-z has some garbage music. Most of what Jay-z is putting out currently is babbage. A lot of 90s hip hop was wack. I just think that the standouts back then stand above anything before it and anything after. I listen extensively to music that’s before my quote en quote time and I listen extensively to music now. It’s not always about what’s currently going on and your peers. Let’s not pretend like we only listen to what we live. If that was true only about 7% of people on Earth would actually listen to hip hop.

                    • Rachmo

                      You really seem to dislike people over 30

                    • I dislike many things, some over 30 I can do without :-)

                    • Rachmo

                      We’ll just be patiently waiting for you with under eye cream #cuzmaturity

                    • ???

                    • Rachmo

                      For when you cross over to the other side and join us. We’ll send you the gift basket. It comes with under eye cream, wine, Ibuprofen, and a West Elm gift card.

                    • I won’t ever need the cream. My mother is pushing 60 now and let me tell you, melanin is keeping things tight. I’ll have some decades to span before I need that. Wine? Wine?! What?! I’m already there!!!! lol Pass me some Aleve though, ibuprofen does nothing for the aches and pains :-(

                    • Rachmo

                      *swaps out some items in the basket. Keeps MAC under eye cream for myself*

                    • Lea Thrace

                      I didnt get my West Elm gift card when the three oh hit. Darnitall!

                    • Rachmo

                      I…stole that. Sorry love

                    • Lea Thrace

                      Damn. It’s rough out here in these e-streets.

                    • TheOtherJerome

                      Well ya’ll did miss out on Ol’ DB for example. There is literally no one that comes with the same energy that dude had. You can buy his music, but the unexpected randomness of that guy can’t be replaced. But its cool.

                      There is dope stuff we missed out on too. It’s the cycle of music life. You can buy the old albums, but you can’t recreate the “This is totally original” vibe when new music is freshly dropped.


                      “oh my Lord, your generation is really missing out on the TRUE lyricism”

                      You kind of do miss out i’m afraid. Like Jay, i collect music. Lyricism isn’t mandatory like it used to be. So we don’t get tons of new artists setting fire to the track like there used to be. Not as many artists make you rewind their music to hear their punch line. That used to happen all of the time.

                      Now todays music is cool. And again i’m a music pack-rat. RHQ’s single was nice. Music is still entertaining and head nod worthy. But Lyrical? Nahh. Once you get past the starters, the folks on the bench aren’t holding it down. In the 90’s the guy on the bench could serve just about anybody.

                      We need a good solid beef to get things back on track again.

                    • Why does one need to be around for the “this is so fresh and new” phase of music? I don’t understand why that matters as long as one enjoys the music.

                      How does one miss out on music that I can still listen to? You all are still missing me with this statement.

                      Also, as far as lyrics are concerned? They’ve never been better from what I’ve been hearing. Trap rappers, conscious rappers, etc. it’s all still impeccable to me.

                    • TheOtherJerome

                      “Why does one need to be around for the “this is so fresh and new” phase of music? I don’t understand why that matters as long as one enjoys the music.”

                      Music is life. You can still enjoy it retrospectively. But you can’t recreate the moment.

                      Like, someone born in the 90’s could love Pac. But you can’t recreate the movement surrounding him. For better or for worse the dude had people walking around with Thug Life tattoos. Ish was crazy.

                      Not to say you can’t love his music, but the experience of the time was like the cherry on top. I’m sure its similar for things like Woodstock. Or how people felt when James Brown dropped “I’m Black and Im Proud”.

                      The period does matter.

                      “They’ve never been better from what I’ve been hearing.”

                      Put the mic down. stop that. Thats like saying the Dream Team couldn’t stand a chance against the current Team USA lol.

                      …… and i LIKE current music! But we’re talking HOF level now. Lyrically it’s no contest. But again, MCing isn’t emphasized as much now anyway. So why would the current crop have any reason to try to be the best.

                    • I don’t understand why your opinion of lyricism trumps mine but alright.

                • Thank you! People seem to forget the era back when hip-hop was considered to be the death of Black music, and people like Wynton Marsalis were begging for Black kids to play instruments. I’m not going to go on an ego trip over music, because I remember when it was done to me. I’m going to try and break the cycle.

                  • TheOtherJerome

                    Man do you remember when Rev Calvin Butts crushed with a STEAM ROLLER (lol) Hip Hop CD’s?! They tried to destroy our music just as it was getting started! I STILL haven’t forgiven him…… Or C Deloris Tucker….. and she’s dead lol

              • IcePrincess

                RHQ is one of the ppl they interviewed for the Atl hip hop documentary. I swear he talks like he rides the short bus lmfao

                • Jay

                  That documentary was on point. Hate that I came of age and moved to the A a few years after Freaknik was no longer a thing.

                  • IcePrincess

                    Yea, panama did a whole post on it last week! I missed freaknik too. Started coming to the A in ’99. But I do remember the original club 112 on Cheshire bridge, as well as the buckhead party district. I attended Puffy’s Super Bowl party in 2000. JD was on the 1’s & 2’s, we all had our minks on, it was awesome. #Y2K #SWAG

                    • Jay

                      Panama’s post is what made me go and find it. I remember 112 on Cheshire Bridge and Lavista. Then they showed footage of Club Khia…

                    • IcePrincess

                      HeII yea. Remember club anytime? It was open 24/7, I bullsh*t you not. Boy, has atlanta changed. And Backstreet was a powerhouse gay club that was so popping that straight ppl would even go there on the weeknds. Now everything is just so fake & wack

                    • Jay

                      I don’t remember Anytime but I remember Backstreet from every homophobic 20 something dude in the city joking about seeing each other there. You remember the Frozen Palace on Old Nat?? It’s crazy how cyclical the strip clubs are here too. I remember when Follie’s was garbage… now it’s jumping.

                    • IcePrincess

                      Don’t remember frozen palace, but follie’s is like a mile from my house. #BUHI. I wish I had went to Central Station before they closed down. That felt like the end of an era.

                    • Lea Thrace

                      Khia. You just took me way back with that.

                      That reggae room. Whew! Memories…

      • Kema

        I use to feel this way about 90’s rap. But now I’m starting to appreciate current rap. Especially the fact that today’s hip hop lends itself more to dancing.

    • *puts $20 in the collection plate* THANK YOU, THANK YOU, 1000X THANK YOU!!!!111

      I knew I wasn’t the only one thinking people were acting straight brand new with the history of R&B.

      • TheOtherJerome

        It always iggs me (Shout out to Chico Debarge) how people complain about music yet don’t want to support artists while they are doing their independent thing. It’s like, if Jagged Edge ain’t getting top 40 spin then it doesn’t count :-(

        If you want JE to continue to make music then continue to support them. I believe they dropped a new album not that long ago.

        Same the for SWV… Tweet and so on.

        The reason why 16-30 types dominate top 40 is because they buy the most music. if 30+ types actually bought more music instead of just complaining, then Jill Scott would be getting more play.

  • I think part of the problem is the subtle segmentation of R&B music. Somewhere in the late 1990s NeoSoul emerged and sort of divided the genre. It seemed as if all of the ‘serious’ artists who placed a stronger emphasis on quality vocals and more ‘meaningful’ lyrical content fell into the NeoSoul camp.

    Unfortunately, Neo Soul is no longer intentionally marketed to the masses which led to the rise of this current wave of contemporary R&B that we are experiencing.

    The music in of itself isn’t bad, in fact, the instrumentation and production values are pretty d*mn excellent, however the vocal, lyrical, and showmanship of most current R&B acts who do not fall under the Neo Soul umbrella are gravely lacking in the aforementioned areas, however it seems as if though this new crop of R&B acts with questionable musical acumen are being heavily promoted with a larger, more influential machine backing their material.

    Seriously, what will it take for an Erykah Badu or Jill Scott to be played on a current hip-hop and R&B station, instead of an ‘ole school’ station.

    Ironically enough, it seems as if a black artist can’t win at making traditionally black music which features amazing vocals and heartfelt content. Most of our popular R&B seem to lack soul—but artists like Adele, Robin Thicke, & Sam Smith stay winning for adopting the traditional R&B sound.

    Just my two cents.

    And yes, I do miss the time when Erykah Badu, Lauryn Hill, Mya, Maxwell, Dru Hill, Destiny’s Child, Mary J. Blige and TLC were played alongside each other on the same radio station since they were all different flavors and facets of R&B.

    • TheOtherJerome

      “Seriously, what will it take for an Erykah Badu or Jill Scott to be played on a current hip-hop and R&B station, instead of an ‘ole school’ station.”

      Payola! Kidding… kind of.

      Actually Erykah was getting spin 3 years ago with “Window Seat” right?


      “I do miss the time when Erykah Badu, Lauryn Hill, Mya, Maxwell, Dru Hill,……”

      Aren’t there internet stations and XM stations for that? Do you really need it to be on your FM dial?

      • “Aren’t there internet stations and XM stations for that? Do you really need it to be on your FM dial?”

        My thought as well. What is considered “this artist isn’t getting enough play on the stations I listen to/tv I watch”?

        • I don’t think I made my point crystal clear enough.

          I was basically lamenting the lack of variety, specifically in terms of R&B music, in current radio formats.

          In the past, R&B music was diverse. Radio playlists from the days of old reflect this fact. This further proves that a wide array of black singers with varying styles were receiving equal or near-equal backing from record labels in terms of marketing, promotion, and PR.

          That isn’t happening today and that’s a shame.

          A Chris Brown, Jenifer Hudson, Jason Derulo, Ledisi, August Alsina, Fantasia, Trey Songz, & Beyonce will not be played on the same station even though they each represent a unique brand of R&B.

          And let’s not forget each of the named artists have all recently released new material within the last 6-12 months.

          That’s the lack of diversity and segmentation of black music I was speaking of….

          • ok got it. Well, marketing and such helps Chris Brown. That and his large fan base. I don’t know that Ledisi’s fan base is even a small fraction of his. Why would the radio (well hip hop stations) give her play when the fan base isn’t there? They’d never play Carrie Underwood because her fan base isn’t listening to their station. The majority of people who will be responding today will probably tell you that they don’t listen to the radio. Why should radio stations cater to individuals who aren’t listening? That’s the epitome hustling backwards

            • Why should radio stations cater to individuals who aren’t listening? That’s the epitome hustling backwards


              • I don’t even think people realize how nonsensical they sound when they start talking about music of yesteryear.

                • That’s why I went so hard in my comment. I had to throw in a motherf*cker so the ignant fogies hear me.

                  • Jay

                    L.Boogie FTW

                • Wild Cougar

                  Selective memory afflicts every generation, but you can’t blame them. People get nostalgic and they romanticize their past and all the music that went with it. It’s always “I can’t listen to this stuff these young people are listening to, only the music of my childhood is any good.” People forget the sh*tty music they used to dance to and only remember the stuff that still gets played because forgettable music is………forgettable. voila! That’s actually how you get old, choosing to shut out anything new, sticking your fingers in your ears and going la,la,la,la. Eventually everything is new and you only consume memories and you start to lose touch with reality altogether. That’s not gonna be me.

                  • TheOtherJerome

                    My personal favorite complaint is the “music is more ignorant now” hissy fit. It’s like people just erased “Donkey Butt” and “My Baby daddy” and so on, from their minds.

                    I swear, “My Baby Daddy” is THE most ignorant song of all time. I don’t care how “Cold” it is in the “D”, you can’t top that.

                    And yep, that song is MY generation! Franky i wear it proudly!!!

                    Top that RubbyWooWoo!

                    • I was just thinking of the same song while reading Dub-C’s comment. And there was a lot of ignorant stuff like that getting spins. That’s why I can’t get mad at Chief Keef. He’s doing the same stuff cats have been doing for years. LOL

          • R&B music was diverse? Negro please. Playlists, with timestamps, or it didn’t happen.

            • Jay

              Yeah, where was this diversity?? One of the FEW positives of R&B today is that it’s diverse. I think that R&B is stale as a genre. “What the world needs now… is not another love song” Denzel said that in “Mo Betta Blues” and that was almost 25 years ago lol.

              • Oh so true. I think people tend to compare the best music of the past 40 years to today’s music. They don’t realize that those songs were played in a context with a lot of foolishness. Of COURSE the best of any genre of all time is going to be better than the present moment. That’s kind of the point.

      • I see both sides of this argument, we all have unlimited resources to music we want but eventually you just wanna see something of your taste get on.

      • Jay

        While yall are sleeping Erykah Badu is making THE BEST MUSIC OF HER CAREER. #truesh*t

        Radio is dead. Why do you want to listen to censored music in between commercials for payday loans and Cialis. Musically, radio is The Matrix. Get out.

        • I’ll listen to a mix but that’s about it

        • Deeds

          People are cheap and don’t want to pay for the other ways to get music, that’s why they still listen to the radio.

      • tgtaggie

        I pretty much don’t listen to FM stations at all for the following reasons:

        1) Due to my job, I’m mostly in my truck for at least 1-2hrs a day. So since I started listening to XM in the last year its been a Godsend. Way better quality of music compared to the mess they play on FM.

        2) I usually switch between XM, Pandora or my Itunes library most of the time.

      • Sigma_Since 93

        “Aren’t there internet stations and XM stations for that? Do you really need it to be on your FM dial?”

        This is discrimination / creating barriers to access.

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