Pop Culture, Theory & Essay

Rhythmless & Blues and Fistpump Soul

The future of Black music.

Happy Black History Month.

And since we’re talking about Black history, you ever notice how disposable R&B is nowadays? It’s no secret that one of my favorite songs of like for-f*ckin-ever is Rihanna’s “We Found Love”, a song about absolutely nothing and everything at the same time. It’s like there’s a party in my mouth and everyone’s invited…but then the police show up. Aww.

Well I haven’t heard this song in probably two weeks now and I don’t miss it at all. You know what I do miss? That snake playing the bongos I saw down by the riverside. And this is a song that is still a Top 5 song on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart. And yet, it’s completely disposable. So is Rihanna for that matter. In fact, you could take every song that Rihanna has made and put somebody else on them and there’s a good chance the song would be as good if not better. Would they be as successful? Probably not. When you’ve got a trainwreck wrapped in a pretty package leading the charge people are going to lineup to contribute to her downfall. Hell, I bought two copies of Loud for that reason. I’m convinced she’s a lesbian skydiving future rehab recidivist waiting to happen. America, f*ck yeah.

What’s my point again? Ah.

Ever since R&B gave way to this merger between pop and club music artists have been making more and more music that sounds good for a week in the club and then pretty much loses all steam once it fades from the charts, and by default, pop radio. Two of my favorite songs of last year were Chris Brown’s “Beautiful People” and Black Eyed Peas “Just Can’t Get Enough”. Do you know that I had to look up the name of the B.E.P. song?

Think about that, I couldn’t remember the name of my favorite song from last year and the group performing it features a white woman, a Black man who dresses like a white woman who dresses like a gay astronaut, a Mexican and something called Apl.de.Ap. At best, ONE of them actually eats black eyed peas. If that’s not memorable I don’t know what is. But it isn’t. Hold me. Pop music has long been moment music and short-term fix sh*t. But now that every damn R&B song has the same format and features a random assortment of various artists, nobody will be caring about this music years from now. Or weeks for that matter.

Now, I know I sound like an old grandpa complaining that music has lost its way blah blah blah. So what, f*ck your couch. Eat the pound cake n*gga. But I do kind of wonder what the hell folks will be listening to a few years from now. Granted music tends to be cyclical, but it really has been a while since any artist made a contribution to R&B that might actually be listenable a few years from now.

Nope. Now I’ve got nothing but fistpump soul. You know what that is. You ever been to a party with a bunch of white people and everybody just keeps jumping up and down and pumping their fists in the air. Real spit, white people are some real athletes. They do that sh*t for hours on end. It’s actually pretty impressive if you think about it. Black folks get it in for a minute then we all take breaks so the guys can regain their composure and the women can do the weave-pat.

And since “neo-soul” tends to suck as a rule – including Jill Scott’s later output, yeah I said it – its no wonder Black people keep losing our stronghold on all of our music. Let me be clear though, I love most pop music and listen to it with reckless abandon in my car. I’m the Black guy in the d-boy car that’s confusing you at the light because he looks like he may rob you but he’s singing what sounds like a Taylor Swift song.

Oh who am I kidding, its totally a Taylor Swift song.

But pop music is not R&B, and its not soul. But when all of your R&B artist and “soul” artists abandon ship in order to attempt to keep up with the Jones who are making songs at 185 BPP with the exact same drum pattern but a different melody, then the entire genre is going to lose itself like Eminem in a movie with Mekhi Phifer wearing a mop.

So what’s the point of all this randomness that you just read? Glad you asked. It’s this, what the f*ck happened to R&B? When D’Angelo lost his sh*t did the entire genre lose it? Usher’s Confessions is the last album that I can remember that was both a blockbuster AND was a really good R&B album. And that was in 2004.

So I ask you the same thing that Kanye asks himself after he lifts weights: does anybody make real sh*t anymore? Or is mainstream R&B a thing of the past? Is anybody making music that we’ll be listening to a few years from now?

Inquiring minds would like to know.

Poor Freddie Jackson. RIP Don Cornelius.

-VSB P aka THE ARSONST aka MR. OLD FOGEY MOTHERF*CKER aka GIIIIIIIIIIRL HE A 3

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Panama Jackson

Panama Jackson is pretty fly for a light guy. He used to ship his frito to Tito in the District, but shipping prices increased so he moved there to save money. When he's not saving humanity with his words or making music with his mouth, you can find him at your mama's mama's house drinking her fine liquors. Most importantly, he believes the children are our future.

  • Mena

    “Real spit, white people are some real athletes. They do that sh*t for hours on end. It’s actually pretty impressive if you think about it. Black folks get it in for a minute then we all take breaks so the guys can regain their composure and the women can do the weave-pat.”. Thank you for a great laugh before I head to bed. :-)

  • http://panamaenrique.wordpress.com Malik

    Mainstream R&B is just hip-hop production + pop sensibilities + Black sanging. That’s it. Well to be honest all mainstream music is really just pop music with whatever ethnic/cultural twist (ex. country music being pop music with a southern twang and maybe a fiddle every couple of songs) added on. Everything is so manufactured about it meh. Granted I don’t hate pop music in the slightest because I bump Britney Spears’ later albums, but it contemporary R&B lacks pretty much everything that make Black music the greatest music in the world.

    I wouldn’t call our Goddess RiRi and R&B singer.

  • Mo-VSS

    Maxwell’s early shit. Jill Scott is still bringing it (contrary to what you say). Marsha A (cannot spell her last name to save my life).

    Honestly, every other artist I was gonna add is someone from the past (much like my first entry Maxwell). The only person I can seriously think of right now who is committed to r&b is Miguel. Trey Songz is the worst…even Usher is doing that pop crap that I hate so much.

    Most r&b songs on my Ipod are old school. And it’s sad. I don’t know when folks making music decided r&b was something we could all do without, but I beg to differ. Classic groups like the Isley Brothers, O’Jays and others to old school Mary J, Jodeci, and Erykah represented a wide range of what was classically good music.

    I weep for the kids now days because if their old school is mess like “just the tip” and their idea of r&b is rihanna (doesn’t deserve caps in her name at all…that’s how unimportant she and her music are to me) and chris brown…well, that’s just a f-king shame.

  • lotusflower11

    I really like Frank Ocean. I think he’s leading the new wave of R&B. *See what I did there* ;)

  • http://OverTymeMusic.net OverTyme

    PJ…..I could go on and on about the state of both current hip hop and R&B, but I won’t. Most of the music today is produced by European DJ’s. The European sound is once again dominating the airwaves like it did in the 1960’s. Plus add the to music industry willing to pimp out the kids at any cost along with younger but more established singers not staying true to their craft and you have a perfect storm of a generation of crappy music. Also add to that mainstream radio stations refusing to play really good music that really is out there. Well except one radio station….which will be up and running real soon.

  • http://panamaenrique.wordpress.com Malik

    On the other hand, Soul music has been pretty brilliant lately. Aloe Blacc’s album “Good Things” was everything. Mama Hold My Hand is going to be considered a classic one day.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uvUV59VrBGo

  • Rog

    The Weeknd gives me hope for R and B, he’s already gotten Drake on a single so its only a matter of time before he’s even more popular.

  • http://ccooper929.wordpress.com/ Chad C.

    “Now, I know I sound like an old grandpa complaining that music has lost its way blah blah blah. So what, f*ck your couch. Eat the pound cake n*gga. But I do kind of wonder what the hell folks will be listening to a few years from now. Granted music tends to be cyclical, but it really has been a while since any artist made a contribution to R&B that might actually be listenable a few years from now.”

    I’m glad that I’m an old soul when it comes to music. mainstream R&B artists are sellouts and thinking about making lots of paper and not about making good protest songs (Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On-http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f39Zs0gB87c&feature=fvst);

    nowadays, they’re thinking about getting caked up w/ dolla dolla bills instead of proclaiming issues and raising socially conscious issues (Marvin Gaye’s Inner City Blues- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qDckI2P_DPA)

    And no one makes love songs like this:
    James Ingram’s One Hundred Ways- (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BBY4o26fCt8)

    or Luther Vandross’s If only for one night- (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Er74vU2I9c&feature=related)

    or Boyz II Men (First Love- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jFKcpc27xPk)

    And had to end this comment w/ some Isley Bros. “Groove w/ you” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jjrIa3szE3w&feature=related)

  • yannii

    I could come on here and say the obvious, “yes, there are great soul artists, you just have to search for them, for example, SoulBounce.com usually introduces a few.” But the fact of the matter is, this is just not R&B’s generation.

    Take the 2000s for example: when Brandy, Monica, Usher, Nsync, and Britney Spears were all pretty popular. You notice that even then, those artists were more R&B than today. Even Britney and Nsync were more R&B-esque. That was a R&B decade. Even obvious ‘pop’ groups like Diddy’s one-no-hit-wonder group Dream sang more R&B. Hell, even Pink was R&B. This is just the pop decade.

    As depressing as it is, R&B don’t live her anymore.

  • Angel Baby

    “including Jill Scott’s later output, yeah I said it”
    I’m glad someone said it!!! Except for a few of the ‘sex” songs I don’t really listen to the album! ;) lol

    Actually, I might be late on this, but I was introduced to Miguel’s cd late last year. He is really great…kind of reminds me of Price. I can listen to his whole album without changing (trust me that says a lot!!!) and it hasn’t gotten “old” to me yet!

    Here P enjoy:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6lv1RXFpV8c&feature=related

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