Pop Culture, Theory & Essay

On Men, Women, And “Understanding” Music

***Hello, people of VSB. Making his first ever guest post today is VSB regular Medium Meech. Please give him a warm welcome and shit.*** 
I have a girl who is a friend.  Not a girl that tries to be one of the guys or a girl in the friend zone. She is a girl without qualification and a friend without asterisks. (She also looks a lot like a girl who was a lot more than a friend, but I’ll address that later.)

One night a group of us are hanging out at her new place; our scarves indoors, prescription-less glasses, and inane conversations making it seem like a scene from “The Best Man” but with the dialogue from “Next Friday.”

I’m not sure if somebody swapped out her Skinny Girl sangria with Wild Irish Rose or if the combination of Issey Miyake and Polo Black aftershave keyed a chemical reaction with her pheromones but something was up. She grabbed her IPod and put on an R&B playlist.  Lovely. I’m a little fuzzy on the sequence of events that led up to what happened next, I was tipsy, but I do remember hearing “Dangerously in Love” and I clearly remember hearing words pass from my friend’s lips that I never imagined I’d hear HER say:

“Beyoncé is one of the top 5 R&B artists of all times”

In my moment of exasperation, I shared with her the commonly held belief among men that women just don’t have the capacity to really understand music.  She laughed. But it wasn’t one of her “Boy you so crazy!” laughs. No, it was one of her strategically condescending “It isn’t that I could ever forget how infantile your thought process is, it’s just that you never cease to present me with new benchmarks for the the sheer depth of your idiocy, and the fact that I’m surprised each and every time is what I find so droll, so it’s not even about you” laughs/scoffs, which are usually followed by long pauses for dramatic effect.

She eventually told me “It’s not that men (me) have some deeper understanding of music, it’s just that men (Again, me. She kept saying men in general but we both knew she was talking about me) turn music and everything else into some pissing contest where they confuse dissent with ignorance, and try to argue personal opinion like it’s fact.”

Her apparent hypocrisy aside, she had a point. Generally speaking, men do not see music objectively. And our attempts to assert our personal opinions as factual absolutes on something as inherently subjective as music are really just a function of the perspective we see music from.

The girl that my girl/friend reminded me of was an early high school girlfriend. It’s funny because we had a moment over music as well. The CD was Maxwell’s Embrya.  I had the house to myself, and I invited her over. This was my first real relationship (by high school standards) so I was trying to get my grown man on, hence a teenager breaking out a Maxwell CD. But it’s not like I didn’t know anything. I’d seen the love scene with Jada Pinket and Blair Underwood in “Set it Off”. I knew how this was supposed to go down. That’s why I grabbed a box of birthday candles out of the pantry and threw them under my bed in case things got real and I needed to take it up a whole ‘nother level.

I was barely out of middle school so I didn’t know what say to a girl alone in my room. But that’s what the Maxwell was for. I didn’t know what to say to let her know I was smooth and mature (I wasn’t), but in my testosterone-infected mind playing Maxwell would.

I was at that age where I was trying to assert my individuality by distinguish my identity form everyone else’s. You may not get this unless you’re from the South, but listening to Maxwell in high school is definitely breaking away from the status quo. But most importantly, I really liked the CD.  It was a proxy for my nascent romantic notions that I had no chance of putting into words. So Embrya was not only the stand in for the game I didn’t have, but also the feelings I couldn’t express and the part of me she could accept and relate to.  

And that is exactly what music is for guys at that age, a voice for the changing emotions we’re socialized not to express and a projection of ourselves. In a lot of ways we define ourselves through our music. My teenage angst and anemic exhibitions of aggression found a voice in NWA, 2pac, Eminem and Metallica. The Goth kids used the conveniently nomenclatured genre of Goth music to express their estrangement from the mainstream and discontent with conformism. My sense of introspection and reflection found homes in Talib, CL smooth, Bach and Playa Fly. And these weren’t necessarily voices that had to be shared with other people, it was mostly about making sense of those feelings myself.

Later on when I talked to my then girlfriend about us vibing over the Maxwell she enjoyed the experience of me sharing something I liked with her more than the music itself. It’s not that she didn’t like it, (the CD or music in general) it just wasn’t THAT deep to her.  It made sense now that I knew her better.  She never really had problems expressing the emotional aspect of her being because society provided her (and other girls/women) plenty of outlets to do so.  By the time high school rolled around she was pretty familiar with her emotional landscape, I was like a Quaker visiting Vegas for the first time. The bright lights just didn’t move her.

So what I internalized as nearly sacred and something that helped complete me as person, she never had to because that part of her was intact and thriving. That emotional wholeness is probably why she (and women in general), just like music, served and continues to serve as a medium to the under-excavated part of who I am.

So the reason men try so hard to make absolute something so subjective as music is because it truly is personal.  It’s human nature to substantiate anything that makes up a part of your identity, even if it is subjective.  Go to a church or a sporting event in any part of the world to see what I’m talking about.  Or just ask a 35-year-old man about his hairline.

And that brings us back to my friend/girl that reminds me a lot of my high school girlfriend.  That conversation we had about music that night helped me realize something else about our relationship.  Friendship between men and women is anything but objective or cut and dry.  For the reasons I gave above, I talk about the parameters and conditions of our friendship in absolutes, just like I do with music.

I’m still trying to work out what that means though.

 —Medium Meech

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Damon Young

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB. He is also a contributing editor for EBONY.com. He resides in Pittsburgh, and he really likes pancakes.

  • http://twitter.com/sylquesaid fixedwater

    Music is art and will always be judge subjectively, no matter how objective we try to be.

    • OSHH

      I came in here to say just that.
      We all view art through the lens of our lives and experiences up to that point.
      Something viewed at 13, is not going to the look the same viewed at 30, the art hasn’t changed but you have. Some art you don’t get til you have lived long enough, then revisit and totally get it. That’s beauty of art, such a powerful medium.

      • Amethyst

        Yup! I mean….I used to like ‘Immature’. O_O

        • Amethyst

          Finally came out of lurk-dom, only to get hit with moderation?! *goesbacktolurkerscorner*

      • Medium Meech

        True, and so is the reverse. Sometimes I wish I could listen to music like I did when I was a teenager.

        • http://missrosen.wordpress.com esa

          i think it goes in cycles. the intensity of my teen years reappears at certain times in my life, particularly those where i am crossing the threshold and entering into the next chapter of my life.

          as it applies to music there have been times in later years where i found that feeling once again, more often than not in the most unexpected places, making it that much more powerful ~*~

  • http://littlepaperheartstrings.tumblr.com robyn

    …I honestly don’t think this sort of thing is relative to sex. It’s by individual. There is near nothing that drives me more (in just about every aspect of my life), than music. It truly is my motivation. I relate to it. I analyze it. I internalize it. It all MEANS something to me. And I’M a female.

    http://robynemmm.blogspot.com/2009/07/way-you-make-me-feelit-really-turns-me.html

    • Medium Meech

      Not saying there arent exceptions or that is a hard and fast rule. The truth is I could have put in dozens of footnotes and caviates to show that itis entirely possible for women to have the exact same experience, but just that it is less frequent. I chose to explain the social constructs I felt influenced my conclusions and allow people to take it from there. I’m arguing trends, not absolutes.

  • Beautifullyhuman

    PA is about to go to work with this post. Lol

    Btw, I love the Rashad! Thanks for the recommendation. “For the Life of Me” goes so HARD. Tracks 15-17 are rotated nonstop.

    • Beautifullyhuman

      I would also like to mention this post is well written. I was waiting on you to get a guest spot.

    • Beautifullyhuman

      “She never really had problems expressing the emotional aspect of her being because society provided her (and other girls/women) plenty of outlets to do so. By the time high school rolled around she was pretty familiar with her emotional landscape, I was like a Quaker visiting Vegas for the first time.”

      According to a study i came across, this is the very basis for why men deal with heartbreak worse than women. It said men lack intimate relationships outside of the women they’re with, while women share intimacy with close friends & family early on.

      • That Ugly Kid

        “According to a study i came across, this is the very basis for why men deal with heartbreak worse than women.”

        This is very interesting. I might research this more. This could be true. My last 3 relationships f*cked me up, bad. Really bad. Still do to some extent. But, I always assumed this was a “me” thing.

        • Beautifullyhuman

          It’s probably not you if you were emotionally invested. The study revealed that men have a greater time getting over the relationship because they don’t have the outlets that women have to release the Pain. Since men don’t normally discuss the pain with other people, they tend to keep it to themselves and struggle with the hurt alone. Women on the other hand, release their heartbreak with their friends, and family with generally no hesitation. The study concluded when men typically release these emotions it’s with the woman whom they’re intimate with.

          Nonetheless, it was an interesting read.

          • Rewind

            Hmm. These things are true. As men, we aren’t granted the ability to positively relieve stress, sadness, and frustration, hence why it usually comes out in violence because it has been rotting inside us for a long time.

            But the same can be said for women who weren’t given the same outlets to express themselves. I’ve met women worse than men when it comes to internalizing pain, so its really all subjective.

            • BeautifullyHuman

              I agree.

      • chameleonic

        “it said men lack intimate relationships outside of the women theyre with, while women share intimacy with close friends and family early on.”

        =/ i wish this were true for me. there was never a level of closeness or bonding with my family. its always been very cold and pure solitude. birth to present ive never had anything even remotely close to the heart with family. it was the same way with friends. i cared for their well being, we did fun things together, but there was no bond or attachment.

        “since men dont normally discuss the pain with other people, they tend to keep it to themselves and struggle with the hurt alone.”

        we have that in common. i dont handle pain, heartbreak, or grief well at all. like…at all. i cant go to friends or family and plus i have a really hard time speaking. ive been like that since i was a kid. when something was wrong or i was upset id just stop talking. sometimes as a young adult id recognize i legit need to vent for my emotional wellness but it seemed like no one was willing to just stfu and listen. talking about grief and getting yelled at, being argued with, or having your sentiments misunderstood hurts worse than the pain storage system, but, i always hoped intimacy with someone would be a two way street. you share i share. we heal together. im not so sure i believe in that concept anymore but it feels nice to think about.

      • https://twitter.com/#!/IluminatiNYC Todd

        About that last paragraph, I saw that study too. I’m not one to take breakups hard. Then again, I’ve kept the same few male friends close. I think those two facts are related. *kanyeshrug*

      • Medium Meech

        That sounds like an interesting study and it does tie directly into what I was trying to say. Women are more emotionally intelligent.

    • http://www.youtube.com/user/pervertedalchemist1?feature=mhee Perverted Alchemist

      “PA is about to go to work with this post. Lol”
      Well, just call me out, why don’t you? LMAO!!!!

      “Btw, I love the Rashad! Thanks for the recommendation. “For the Life of Me” goes so HARD. Tracks 15-17 are rotated nonstop.”
      I got some more stuff up my sleeve. Just wait…

      • Beautifullyhuman

        I stayed up just for you, PA. Lol

        As soon as I read the first couple of paragraphs I was like where my ninja PA at. Lol

        This is all you.

        Funny enough, with certain posts I anticipate certain commentators. I know about two wks ago I was looking for Black Medici commentary but I didn’t see it because I didn’t recognize he changed his s/n at the time.

        • http://www.youtube.com/user/pervertedalchemist1?feature=mhee Perverted Alchemist

          Damn, am I that obvious? LOL!

          • Asiyah

            ¡SI! lol

  • larenee10

    Nice post, sir. I just decided you are from my part of the South with that Playa Fly reference, though. *Nobody needs nobody…:-)

    • Sweet GA Brown

      Crownin me, Downin me

      • Iceprincess2

        Triple b*tch mafia!

        • larenee10

          I have found my people at last.

    • Medium Meech

      You already Know. North North (read: norf norf)

      • larenee10

        Hey! I’m from BlackHaven. Don’t hate.

  • iamnotakata

    I guess I am relatively shallow when it comes to music…I look for too things, a good beat, or they can actually sing. So my music preferences go any where from The Weeknd to Rachet as* 2 chains.

    • msdebbs

      “I guess I am relatively shallow when it comes to music…I look for too things, a good beat, or they can actually sing. So my music preferences go any where from The Weeknd to Rachet as* 2 chains.”

      Girl me too /:

    • http://www.styleillusions.com WIP

      I rarely just sit and listen to music. Lately I only listen at the gym. “Bands” goes hard on the treadmill. 2Chainz is so deceptively simple, the lyrics just quietly sink in and come out when you least expect them.

  • That Ugly Kid

    “Generally speaking, men do not see music objectively.”

    Lol, man tell me about it. The excruciatingly high number of times I’ve heard people use the annoying term “Real Hip-Hop/Real Music” is ridiculous. The vast majority of times, that non-sense is uttered by men. Tell people you prefer Kanye, Drake, and Childish Gambino over KRS-One, Biggie, and Nas, and a lot of guys lose their f*cking minds.

    But, I digress. This post is certainly interesting. I’ve never thought of things this way. This could possibly explain why I’m drawn to more introspective, emotional rappers because I personally have a very hard time expressing my emotions. I usually cover it up with sarcasm or revert to apathy.

    • http://twitter.com/kjnetic Sith King Jordan aka Bruce Lil’ Wayne bka 2 Fitted Hatz

      “But, I digress. This post is certainly interesting. I’ve never thought of things this way. This could possibly explain why I’m drawn to more introspective, emotional rappers because I personally have a very hard time expressing my emotions. I usually cover it up with sarcasm or revert to apathy.”

      +4

    • http://commentarybyvalentina.wordpress.com/ Val

      I’ve seen those crazy conversations on this blog in the comments. I always just walk away.

    • chameleonic

      apathy = my downfall. im entirely too accustomed to it for my own good.

      [*hands tuk a mug of peppermint hot cocoa and snuggles in extra close beside him*] i wanna be there when you emotionally introspect so we can do it together. and then we can make ‘friendship but not friendzoned’ bracelets.

      • That Ugly Kid

        Yay for bracelets!

    • https://twitter.com/#!/IluminatiNYC Todd

      *takes moment to find mind*

      You remind me of that line from Jay-Z’s “Ain’t No Love”: Sensitive thugs/y’all all need hugs! There are ways to express emotions without being a passive aggressive b1tch about it. And I say this as a Kanye fan. :)

    • Rewind

      Well to be fair..that shyte goes for anything that is related from old vs. new. Trying to argue with a man about the greatest rappers ever if he grew up with Kool G. Rap & Rakim while you grew up with DMX & T.I is going to be a WAAAAAY out there conversation based on nothing but nostalgia for both parties.

      It could be said that as men, we push our opinions to be facts, but I never heard an argument between two people that didn’t involve that ideal, ESPECIALLY when the argument is about things people grew up with.

    • Medium Meech

      Typical male. Yeah, I do the same thing too.

  • http://www.writingsofamidlifeman.com J. Delancy

    “Beyonce is one of the top five R&B artist of all time”. You were right to take exception to such a superlative declaration. What is she measuring, talent or income?
    Having said that, I totally get what your high school girlfriend meant, IT just ain’t that deep to me either. Hopefully this means I’m in touch with all of my emotions and have been for some time.

    • http://www.youtube.com/user/pervertedalchemist1?feature=mhee Perverted Alchemist

      It’s probably her income. As you know, in this day and age success and looks trump actual talent. Why do you think Rihanna still has a career.

      • http://edotreed.blogspot.com E. Reed

        Why folks give Rhianna so much grief???

        I mean, she’s not the most talented vocalist or a gifted musician in any shape, form, or fashion. I get that! She’s just a pretty face that outsells most of lesser attractive contemporaries. We all know this, but I hate when people in the 25+ crowd get self-righteous and turn into pseudo music snobs and talk about how this current generation’s music lacks quality, but will be the same ones defending the legendary status of TLC and Janet Jackson who were basically the Rhiannas of their generation; meaning they were fine women with good producers and writers who gave them good material that outsold all their contemporaries even though they were terrible singers. It boggles my mind…..

        • http://www.youtube.com/user/pervertedalchemist1?feature=mhee Perverted Alchemist

          Simple- because a lot of people don’t want to admit the truth about their favorite artists. They don’t want to accept the fact their favorite artist or singer was just as producer driven or vocally limited as the artist they complained about. We all heard the comments from certain people about how Rihanna, Ciara and Ashanti can’t sing, but will defend Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins and Aaliyah’s off key warblings as “groundbreaking”.

          Case in point, I made a Beatles fan mad because I called them a “boy band”. But the thing is they acutally were. All they did was make pop records and decided to take some LSD one day and voila, “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ was born.

          • http://twitter.com/HumanSpiderACNJ The Human Spider

            We all heard the comments from certain people about how Rihanna, Ciara and Ashanti can’t sing, but will defend Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins and Aaliyah’s off key warblings as “groundbreaking”.

            Except Missy Elliott. She still believes (to this day) that Ciara could change a lot of opinions about her singing if she sang a capella…

            • http://www.youtube.com/user/pervertedalchemist1?feature=mhee Perverted Alchemist

              The only problem is that no one has seen her sing acapella- like at all. Missy’s only saying that about her because that’s one of her friends. Missy is the same person that said that about Total…and you know how that went…

              • http://twitter.com/HumanSpiderACNJ The Human Spider

                I have “Promise” on a capella. Any doubts I may have had about Ciara’s vocal ability intensified after that experience.

                • http://www.twitter.com/mcnairian5 Fiveisthenumber

                  Ciara – poor man’s Janet Jackson.

                • xLadyTx

                  Ciara’s a dancer. That’s it!

              • https://twitter.com/#!/IluminatiNYC Todd

                You mean the group Total (Lack of Talent)! I’m sorry, but when you sound off-key on a studio recording after ProTools and well-paid recording engineers mixing the best takes, then yeah…

                And methinks Missy has seen Ciara sing a capella in a…very nontraditional manner. ;)

          • Sweet GA Brown

            Hold up, I think Aaliyah can sing.
            And the only person in TLC that could hold a note was Chilli. But Chilli couldnt do too much of that either.

            • http://www.youtube.com/user/pervertedalchemist1?feature=mhee Perverted Alchemist

              Aaliyah was a great studio session singer, but she was hard on the ears when it came to live performances. Watch her perform live and you’ll see what I mean.

              While it is true that Chilli could hold a note, she barely had an entire song to herself to show off what she could actually do. I can count on one hand how many solo songs Chilli recorded as a member of TLC.

              • Rewind

                Soft voiced singers are horrible live. But that’s because they have to yell. You can’t sing very low octaves while yelling in a crowded area over hundreds of people and loud music. Sounds crappy. Hence why most rap performances don’t sound great if the song isn’t energy-based, because yelling the lyrics to “Dead Presidents II” when the actual song is set with a soft tone doesn’t match up.

            • chameleonic

              i agree with both of you. aaliyah was cool vocally, i get chills listening to her ballad ‘the one i gave my heart to’, but her appeal to me was in large part due to production (the creativity and catchiness that is timbaland and missy).

              listening to tlc is the same. very catchy songs but they cant sing. fanmail is half dope and i always wonder how come chilli didnt lead more songs but the makeup of that group was: distinct voice singer, ad libs and background vocals, rapper. it worked well for them.

        • http://twitter.com/HumanSpiderACNJ The Human Spider

          She’s just a pretty face that outsells most of lesser attractive contemporaries. We all know this, but I hate when people in the 25+ crowd get self-righteous and turn into pseudo music snobs and talk about how this current generation’s music lacks quality, but will be the same ones defending the legendary status of TLC and Janet Jackson who were basically the Rhiannas of their generation; meaning they were fine women with good producers and writers who gave them good material that outsold all their contemporaries even though they were terrible singers. It boggles my mind…..

          +0.5

          You hit the nail on the head: T-Boz and Chilli weren’t known for their tremendous vocals, and I’m still trying to figure out whether or not Left Eye actually sang to include her in that list. Janet Jackson, great body, not exactly the strongest vocals.

          Rihanna is in that same boat; not vocally gifted, but thanks to a strong team and legions of fans, she’s currently at the top of pop. Except (I think) she’s not exactly a pretty face. Which is why I had to deduct half your point.

          • http://www.youtube.com/user/pervertedalchemist1?feature=mhee Perverted Alchemist

            “I’m still trying to figure out whether or not Left Eye actually sang to include her in that list. Janet Jackson, great body, not exactly the strongest vocals.”

            Left Eye never sang on their albums- all she did was spit a hot verse every now and then.

            Janet Jackson’s appeal was the same as Aaliyah’s appeal- their fame relied on the producers they were working with. Keep in mind that when before Janet worked with Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis on “Control”, she released two albums that did nothing- even while having songwritng and production from her a couple of her brothers and Angela Winbush.

            • http://twitter.com/HumanSpiderACNJ The Human Spider

              She also had help from The Sylvers (The Sylvers). Foster Sylvers to be exact. Once Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis got a hold of her, it was a wrap..

        • http://verysmartbrothas.com Panama Jackson

          first off don’t be stealing my thunder. i been planning on writing the Rihanna and Janet Jackson basically same sh*t different decade argument. lol

          • mena

            But will Rihanna be around as long as Janet? Some of these singers, for better or worse, are just straight up icons. Janet is one of them.

            The female icons of our generation are Madonna, Janet, and Mariah. It has some to do with singing ability but a lot to do with staying power. When you have been in the game for 25+ years and you can still sell albums and singles and new generations are jamming to your music like they were there when it was released says a lot to me.

            As much as people may hate her, Beyonce will be one of those people.

            • BeautifullyHuman

              +100

              • mena

                Hey girl hey!!

                • BeautifullyHuman

                  Hey girl!! :-)

            • http://verysmartbrothas.com Panama Jackson

              maybe so, but Rihanna has 7 albums. and they’ve all sold well in today’s climate. janet made 10 albums in 26 years.

              i aint saying Rihanna is going to be as iconic as Janet. but that iconic status is only in terms of album sales. Rihanna is selling albums and doing it her way. and she’s making more money than janet.

              • mena

                No. Being iconic is more than just album sales. It’s about the tours, how memorable is your music, your staying power. Rihanna aint got it.

                Rihanna is staying around b/c her music is fine (nice beat yet forgettable) and she is with Yellow Cake. Rihanna will never be in the same league as the icons. If she fell off today, and one of her songs came on 10 yrs from now, most of us would turn the station. Let Control, Black Cat, or I Get Lonely come on and see what happens to everyone in the car.

          • http://edotreed.blogspot.com E. Reed

            Glad someone sees my perspective. Usually when I compareRRhiannaRhianna to Janet people argue me down

        • http://www.styleillusions.com WIP

          TLC was one of the most non-singingest groups ever. I never understood why people were so crazy about them at all. And when Janet’s age started showing, she stopped singing and started stripping.

          • chameleonic

            lmao. but the pajamas and grinding in the creep video??? i wore baggy silk pjs until i was like 18.

            so i creep, yyeeeeah. just keep it on the downlow since nobody aint supposed to knooooow. [*doing the grind as i brush my teeth*]

          • Rewind

            My nig it was the 90s. What part of the 90s inspired SKILL?

          • SweetSass

            Wasn’t TLC at least partially a rap group?

            • http://www.youtube.com/user/pervertedalchemist1?feature=mhee Perverted Alchemist

              Even though they had a rapper, TLC was still classified as a pop/R&B group.

            • http://verysmartbrothas.com Panama Jackson

              no

    • chameleonic

      beyonce isnt talented?

      • http://www.twitter.com/mcnairian5 Fiveisthenumber

        Beyonce is very talented. She gets hated on to such an extreme that she could be confused with Diana Ross. Too much R&B out there to say she is top 5 and not have a ton of evidence to back it up. All I know is that when I think of R&B, none of her work immediately pops up in my mind. But when I play sets at parties, a Beyonce/DC set will get things poppin.

        • chameleonic

          lol. i started watching the wiz last night but i fell asleep. i just finished watching it. diana ross is legendary and i dont think anyone of my generation should be compared. i do think beyonce as a whole package is a legend in the making though. top 5 r&b? not so much. but great in and of herself.

        • SweetSass

          I think Beyonce is today’s Diana Ross but with less talented song writers.

          Dreamgirls was like a biography. Eerie.

          • http://missrosen.wordpress.com esa

            that and Diana can act ~*~ love Mahogany !

            • SweetSass

              The Wiz!

      • Sweet GA Brown

        I think Solange is a better singer than Beyonce.

        • Sweet James Jones

          I have been saying that since her first album came out! People look at me like I just spit on their mama when I say it but, I believe its true. Just like I believe Jermaine is a better singer than Michael. But thats just my musical taste I guess. I tend to sway more to R&B than pop.

          • Sweet GA Brown

            Ppl ride with Beyonce cause they look at her as the star in the familty while Solange is supposed to be the ugly duckling, i guess.

            Shiiiiiiit, I think Kelly Roland got better vocals than Beyonce. She could have lead Destiny’s Child with no problem.

            • Nikki

              I agree with your statement as well. Kelly was definitely the best singer in the group.

            • chameleonic

              word! kellys vocals are beautiful. she is slept on.

        • Nikki

          I’m glad to know I am not the only one who thinks this. I also appreciate that for the most part Solange stays in her vocal talent lane. Beyonce tries to do too much with too little talent and it comes across as screeching. What irritates me the most where she’s concerned is even when she is staying in her lane, her voice is just ok. Certainly not worth all of the kudos she is given. There are other artists out there with more talent who seem to be lurking in her shadows and that’s a travesty.

        • YeahSo

          I’m sorry what? I think Solange is far more talented in the songwriting, “let’s get deep” (having substance), creative department… but a better singer? A BETTER SINGER? bwahahahahahaha

        • http://verysmartbrothas.com Panama Jackson

          and i think you are on crack. lol.

    • http://verysmartbrothas.com Panama Jackson

      Real talk…given ALL of the variables, I don’t see how you can say that she ISN’T one of the top 5 R&B artists?

      and for the record, Aretha isn’t R&B. She’s soul.

      • mena

        Yes. The shade police is out in full force today–they brought in the lieutenants, sergeants, and captains to hate on Beyonce.

        Beyonce Knowles, who for some reason still gets on one of my nerves, will go down as the best R&B artist. She is a performer. Pure and simple. You can hate her for whatever reason you choose, but no one can come close to where she is today.

        Start naming R&B artists that have reached her magnitude, can sing, put on an amazing show, sell out arenas, have the gays doing splits and backflips.

        Ready, set, go…

        • qilanobee

          While that’s true and all….Beyonce stopped being a R&B artist once they replaced the other two original members in DC. She’s most def a pop artist and has been for years.

          • mena

            I guess my question is what is true R&B. I mean, we have neo soul now but R&B to me was Tamia and Deborah Cox. Most people are pop now.

            School me on this and i am being serious. What makes R&B? Neo Soul is different correct? Who are the mainstream R&B artists?

        • BeautifullyHuman

          “…have the gays doing splits and backflips.”

          DEAD…they go SO hard for her. LMAO

          • mena

            When you get the gays, you have made it.

            • SweetSass

              They are the diva-makers…

              Cher
              Madonna
              Barabra Streisand
              Judy Garland

              You get embraced by the gay community and you’ve acheived immortality.

              • Sweet GA Brown

                Patti LaBelle
                Donna Summers

                • http://www.youtube.com/user/pervertedalchemist1?feature=mhee Perverted Alchemist

                  Donna Summer WAS on their list- until she spoke of her Chrisitan beliefs on homosexuality.

                • mena

                  Dolly Parton!! You aint know did you? :-)

              • Asiyah

                Cher! I love her!

                • chameleonic

                  …..no homo.

            • BeautifullyHuman

              YES! They have undying loyalty. lol

    • Asiyah

      Beyonce is far from the top five. I don’t even think she’s in the top 25.

      • mena

        Lord!! The hate that just dripped off of that comment…LOL. :-)

        • Asiyah

          LOL it isn’t hate. I don’t hate her at all. I just don’t think she’s among the best in R&B. Come on R&B has been around for a long time. She’s not exactly without any formidable competition.

          • http://verysmartbrothas.com Panama Jackson

            okay. do me a solid and NAME 25 better R&B artists than Beyonce.

            i’ll wait.

      • http://edotreed.blogspot.com E. Reed

        If Beyonce were less attractive, fatter, or just a Tad bit darker with same level of fame and acclaim, folks wouldn’t hate or criticize her hard as they do. I’ve been saying that for years

        • mena

          “…Or just a tad bit darker” Not saying that i agree, but i may see your point.

          I’m still upset that Destiny’s Children were broken up buy her pappy but i am going to give credit where it is due. She can sing. She can perform. She puts out wonderful singles. Her albums are actually good. Did I mention she can sing? Yes. Ok. I’ll say it again. She can sing.

        • Asiyah

          that doesn’t apply to me because I don’t have a complex when it comes to skin color. so…nah.

          my issue with Beyonce doesn’t blind me to her talent. She can sing and perform, no doubt about it. is she a songwriter? hmm…from what I’ve heard, lots of artists (including Beyonce) ask for songwriting cred and claim to write their own music when it’s not true just to have the cred and the royalties. that’s my issue with her and a lot of other artists.

          But girl can SING! No denying that.

          • mena

            Nah. Beyonce is just a boss. She owns those songs. Doesn’t write them yet she owns them. None of Destiny’s Children can perform from that catalogue without asking her for permission. It’s a cUnT move but…

            • http://www.styleillusions.com WIP

              ” None of Destiny’s Children can perform from that catalogue without asking her for permission.”

              She sang damn near everything- what are they going to perform alone? LOL

              • mena

                LOL :-)

                I never thought i would be a Beyonce defender but the shade needs to stop.

                Now her acting…no ma’am.

            • Asiyah

              Yes, she owns the songs. Much like Celine Dion owns her songs. But Celine doesn’t profess herself a songwriter. Beyonce, on the other hand, does. No need to lie or tweak the truth. You are great at performing. What does it matter if you don’t really write the material? You can still make it your own.

        • SweetSass

          She also wouldn’t be famous.

  • http://testorshia.blogspot.com Tes

    Congrats on the guest spot Meech! ^__^ *throws confetti and plays Madonna’s “Like A Virgin”*

    My dude and I bond a lot over music for the reasons you stated above. He’s kind of the quiet type and (other than sports which he loves almost as much as he proved on yesterday’s post) it’s how we sometimes relate. I kid with him sometimes that the soundtrack to our relationship is the dopest sh*t I’ve ever heard :)

    You bring up a great point, I think Meech, in that art, sports, etc. sometimes fills the gaps in where a person is lacking something and it makes the gaps easier relate to other people. But then my question becomes does the gap ever disappear? Does the gap ever fill itself with wisdom or love or whatever’s missing in time?

    • http://testorshia.blogspot.com Tes

      Also, Beyonce is surely not top five for R&B by any means. Pop, most definitely, but not R&B.

      But you ain’t hear that from me.

      • http://commentarybyvalentina.wordpress.com/ Val

        Beyonce will be remembered as one of the all-time great burlesque dancers. :-)

        • Joyful

          Bwahahahahaha! You wrong for that!

    • Medium Meech

      You know, sports is like small talk to us. I wouldn’t surprised if 60% of our conversations with each other were about sports. Allows us to talk about something completely impersonal.

  • Toria

    Music for me is sometimes a way to show feelings I’m not ready to acknowledge or am unaware of. It’s crazy how the songs I sent my man a few months ago said everything I wanted to tell him but wasnt ready to. I didn’t even realize it until I listened to them a while after.

    I also think sometimes people can rely on music for expression bc if it’s received badly or whatever, then it becomes just a song. Less pressure to own up to the meaning behind it, realized or not.

  • http://edotreed.blogspot.com E. Reed

    Music sets moods and move emotions.

    Why do you think movies have scores and soundtracks??? There’ll always be a metaphysical component that keeps any of us from being objective, man or woman….

    That might also be the reason every generation feels like the music from their era. Everyone has music tied to their childhood innocence and coming of age…..

    That’s why my dad likes Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, and Parliament…..

    That’s why I like Kanye, lauryn hill, tupac, and missy…. plus some other ratchet Texas hip-hop…..

    Not always cause it’s the most high quality music, but more the
    memories attached to them….
    I do feel like we judge ALL music against the music of our youth. We think it’s purely subjective, but we think we’re being objective even though our standards are set by what we liked in our younger days…..

    • Beautifullyhuman

      I totally agree with you. Nobody can’t tell me nothing about 90s music. Lol. I love my Jodeci and Intro Pandora stations.

      • http://testorshia.blogspot.com Tes

        Not always cause it’s the most high quality music, but more the memories attached to them….

        And there it is.

      • http://commentarybyvalentina.wordpress.com/ Val

        Oh you poor Jodeci fan. You have been through so much.

        • Beautifullyhuman

          For real though. Lol

        • http://edotreed.blogspot.com E. Reed

          Jodeci > all male R&B groups except New Edition.

          • http://www.youtube.com/user/pervertedalchemist1?feature=mhee Perverted Alchemist

            Can’t agree with you there, dude. Tony! Toni! Tone! will stomp the living sh*t out of Jodeci in a catalog contest.

            • https://twitter.com/#!/IluminatiNYC Todd

              Keyword being “catalog” though. I will say Tony! Toni! Tone! had the more consistent track record, and I know they trend to your preferences anyway. Still, when Jodeci was on, they were on. Their hits can match up with the best of any R&B group in history. They did throw some crap out there trying to be creative, but when it clicked, it CLICKED.

              • http://www.youtube.com/user/pervertedalchemist1?feature=mhee Perverted Alchemist

                Overall, Jodeci had better voices, but Tony! Toni! Tone! had better songs, albums and production.

            • http://www.styleillusions.com WIP

              Love the TTT, but Jodeci got more songs that will make you feel something. Does TTT have a run like tracks 1-5 on Diary of a Mad Band?? One album, that’s the end right there.

              • http://www.youtube.com/user/pervertedalchemist1?feature=mhee Perverted Alchemist

                “Sons Of Soul”, anyone?

              • http://twitter.com/kjnetic sith king jordan

                “Does TTT have a run like tracks 1-5 on Diary of a Mad Band??”

                5 kids being born off that first half of Diary of a Mad Band…that is undisputed lol

      • http://www.youtube.com/user/pervertedalchemist1?feature=mhee Perverted Alchemist

        “Nobody can’t tell me nothing about 90s music.”

        90′s R&B? *shudders*

        • http://www.twitter.com/mcnairian5 Fiveisthenumber

          90s R&B was serious son! Freak-a-leek music. Haha!

          • http://www.youtube.com/user/pervertedalchemist1?feature=mhee Perverted Alchemist

            From 1991-1995? Some of it. After that, it was either give or take. For the most part, a lot of 90′s R&B was forgettable.

            • Rewind

              Hmm. I’ll give you that. Somewhere between the end of Teddy Riley’s New Jack Swing era and Timbaland’s era with Aaliyah, R&B got real fawking creepy and took a huge nose dive in creativity. Hence the R&B of 2K is pure crap, filled with singers who want to be rappers, and female singers wanting to be rock stars & 50s doo woop singers at the same damn time.

        • https://twitter.com/#!/IluminatiNYC Todd

          Pre or post 1996 (or thereabouts). Once neo-soul started to become a movement and producers finally figured out how to use computers in the studio, things got a LOT better.

          • http://www.youtube.com/user/pervertedalchemist1?feature=mhee Perverted Alchemist

            ^^^This right here!!!!

            Out of that movement came Maxwell, Erykah Badu, Adriana Evans, Davina, D’Angelo, Olu (remember him?), even Donell Jones got on that neo soul sh*t. “Where I Wanna Be” was pretty much a neo-soul album that was done by a contemporary R&B singer.

            • Rewind

              Well..if you think about it..neo-soul had to be it’s own niche market, because lumping it in with R&B, which was full of non singers by the time 1997 came around, didn’t help.

              You couldn’t match Maxell & D’Angelo to Uncle Sam & Dave Hollister. Didn’t fit.

            • Eps

              I can sing the entire “Where I Wanna Be”. That was the 1st R&B album I owned!

    • http://www.youtube.com/user/pervertedalchemist1?feature=mhee Perverted Alchemist

      “I do feel like we judge ALL music against the music of our youth. We think it’s purely subjective, but we think we’re being objective even though our standards are set by what we liked in our younger days…..”

      This is something I think about when I hear classic rock fans talk about the state of today’s music. Those old motherf*ckers are still stuck on 1973!

      • http://edotreed.blogspot.com E. Reed

        Lol…. I’m still stuck in 2002 musically. Back when R&B and hip-hop were still two distinct genres. When all the popular singers had actual vocal talent and the music was about love and sensual foreplay. And when rap from Texas and Louisiana was getting play…. yeah I was loving them days. Almost went back just right now lol

        • http://www.youtube.com/user/pervertedalchemist1?feature=mhee Perverted Alchemist

          This whole electronic dance music craze in R&B and hip hop needs to be stopped! I’m not trying to hear urban music over techno beats. The only album that I can say that was great at blending the genres was Jon B’s new album “Comfortable Swagg”.

          • http://edotreed.blogspot.com E. Reed

            Meanwhile, pop(read:white) artists like Adele and Christina Aguleria are making soulful music that’s selling more than crap we produce? Why are black artists afraid to be soulful these days? They all sound very disassociated in their music. It just doesn’t pull me in…

            • http://www.youtube.com/user/pervertedalchemist1?feature=mhee Perverted Alchemist

              Here’s why. In the 80′s, R&B artists at that time were making a beeline to pop radio. You may remember that Miki Howard and Gerald Levert were hell bent on crossing over- despite the fact they were niche artists. New Jack Swing was a reaction to what was going on with all of the saccharine, pop filled R&B songs of the 80′s. Even now, a lot of R&B artists are making a play for pop radio because they want mainstram acceptance. As we have seen numerous times in history, mainstream love only lasts but for so long. Think about all of the Black artists that were all about hitting the pop charts and where they are now.

              • Sweet James Jones

                Gerald wanted to be be pop really bad. His dad has stated that in a few interviews. I selfishly wanted him to belong to “us”. R&B lacks a true man voice and he was it. He was at his best when he was pure soul and R&B.
                Same for Usher in my opinion. My favorite songs by him are the more R&B flavored ones. I can’t stand that techno/pop stuff he does now.

                • http://www.youtube.com/user/pervertedalchemist1?feature=mhee Perverted Alchemist

                  Yep.

            • Asiyah

              Christina Aguilera hasn’t made soulful music in a while. Adele and the late Amy Winehouse, well, I give that to you.

              I don’t think it’s just black artists who are afraid to be soulful. If you look at it, only Adele and a few others are still soulful these days. You have a plethora of shallow music, like Katy Perry, Lana del Rey (yes, I took it there. She’s about as deep as deep throat), etc. etc. Nobody wants to be deep anymore. It’s not marketable and it doesn’t sell.

              • http://twitter.com/HumanSpiderACNJ The Human Spider

                Nobody wants to be deep anymore. It’s not marketable and it doesn’t sell.

                I kinda disagree; given the right person and the right mind, it can be marketable. Whether it can sell (well) in the recent climate is left to be seen, but I’m sure it can sell.

                • Asiyah

                  It can, but it won’t sell-out tours and such. And it doesn’t create much of a brand. Music nowadays is more about branding than about music.

          • MissRae

            I know right, Comfortable Swagg is dope.

          • Rewind

            How else are they going to make music?

            That era started because the Euro-kids love electronica, and it sells ridiculous amounts over on the other side, hence why Swedish House Mafia, David Guetta, etc are so damn famous, but our black asses have no idea who they are.

            Shyte gimme one of their beats, I’ll sell my soul to get that paper.

            • SweetSass

              I am into Electronica…

              But then again…

              I was born in Europe… so you might have something there.

              • Rewind

                Aye I live here and I somehow fell into the trap of liking it…but being an electronica DJ these days nets you millions of dollars..so somebody obviously likes it.

          • BeautifullyHuman

            “The only album that I can say that was great at blending the genres was Jon B’s new album “Comfortable Swagg”

            Hell Naw!! This sh*t was straight garbage! Jon B’s worst album by a mile. No bullsh*t, I almost shed a tear when I heard this album. He had the audacity to release this after “Cool Relax,” “Pleasures U Like,” and “Stronger Everyday.” When I heard this album it was a dark day for me because I realized contemporary R&B is dying. Everybody is hellbent on trying to crossover to Pop music. Ugh.

            What about the fans who were holding you down in the 90s???? Just eff us I see. SMH.

    • chameleonic

      truuuuuue story. so spot on. all the music im into has a good memory attached to it from my coming of ageness. the other week i was listening to mya and missy elliot and aaliyah, feeling somewhat good because i could remember how heavily influenced my wardrobe was by them. everything about the 90s makes me smile because that formulated a lot of who i am. zany brainy. my favorite food to this day is pizza because of the movie selena. i have a healthy appreciation for the golden nuggets of the generations before me but sometimes its just nice to enjoy my own era.