The Future of Music: Part I

08 Dec

As we approach the end of the first decade of the new millennium, I’ve really started to wonder about the future of music. There were so many changes that music (especially in terms of R&B and rap) underwent in the 2000s, that I honestly don’t know where it’s going to go in 2011. However, in effort to channel my inner Negrodamus, and just because I like being right, I decided to make a series of predictions about what we should expect from Rap and R&B music in the next decade.

Prediction 1: R&B will get its groove back… with a VENGEANCE.

R&B’s roots tended (and still do tend, mostly) to fall into one of four areas:

1. subtle sensuality – such as Subway and 702’s “This Lil’ Game We Play” or Raphael Saadiq’s “Ask of You.”

2. cautionary tales or overall ecstatic feelings accompanied by beats that made you want to dance, that constituted the “rhythm” part of R&B – like Soul 4 Real’s “Candy Rain” and En Vogue’s “Never Gonna Get It (My Lovin’).”

3. heart-wrenching ballads that constituted the “blues” part of R&B – like Mint Condition’s “Breakin’ My Heart (Pretty Brown Eyes)” and Mary J. Blige’s “I’m Going Down.”

4. obvious hints and clever plays on words that teased without being obscene – like Az Yet’s “Last Night” and TLC’s “Red Light Special.”

**This is completely ignoring R. Kelly, Adina Howard, and the group Silk, who certainly were originals in bringing out the “freak” in the genre*

Over the course of the mid-90s onward, however, R&B “lost” its way. It became a literal freak of its own evolving nature, becoming more sexed up and even a bit more “rough” as there were collabos with rappers and the “R&B thug” emerged. In the 2000s, the R&B thug became a staple, giving birth to and creating a niche for artists such as Jaheim, Trey Songz, and Lyfe Jennings (the latter being the only one to hold true to his initial “gritty” image throughout his career). Briefly, the “man group” (and also, the “lil’ man group”) returned as well, as Jagged Edge, Pretty Ricky, and the Touched ones B2K could be counted on at the start of the 2000s to deliver certified R&B hits.

The SOUL of the genre, however, was gone. Artists who attempted to bring the raw emotion and true feeling to R&B – people like Musiq Soulchild, India.Arie, Carl Thomas, Glenn Lewis, and Jill Scott, as well as tail-enders of the 90s like Eric Benet, Avant, and Tamia – were being slept on, underpromoted (*cough* Diddy and Mario Winans *cough*), slid onto a chorus for a single (*cough* Diddy and Mario Winans *cough*) or hampered by a repetitive sound (especially true for Musiq).

However… I am pleased to say that I HAVE HOPE that R&B, soulful R&B that appeals as much to what’s in one’s head, as much as it does to what’s between one’s legs, will be on the comeback. Ex-Floetry frontwoman Marsha Ambrosius (who I’ve fallen in aural lust with), has quietly been building up to her forthcoming debut album with sensual yet scintillating outings on her mixtapes Yours Sincerely and SEXTAPE. R. Kelly and Eric Benet have both dropped recent tracks that show not only that they “still have it,” but that the male ballad is far from dead; Lloyd, Trey Songz (look more so at his earlier work and album tracks like this, for example, as opposed to his current singles) and Raheem DeVaughn, to a degree, also seem to be making their cases for consideration.

You’ll want to keep a keen eye out for Chrisette Michele and emerging serenader K. Michelle (who’s already been cosigned by the R in R&B). But you definitely want to watch Jazmine Sullivan, who seems to have effectively ousted Keyshia Cole as the “Mary J. Blige” for this generation, merking high notes that evince a range of emotions from pain to heartache to yearning to flat out disgust. Her latest effort, Love Me Back, is literally old school, each track seeming to borrow its sound from the disco 70s or Motown in its heyday.

Don’t believe my hype? Well, listen to any of the below tracks… and tell me if you don’t get just a tad hopeful yourself. Until Part II, y’all…

**though I HIGHLY recommend this Jazmine Sullivan track here over “10 Seconds.”**


Posted by on December 8, 2010 in Music


7 responses to “The Future of Music: Part I

  1. Chad Stanton

    December 8, 2010 at 3:05 PM

    Eh…i don’t know. I think the future of R&B and Rap for that matter will look a lot more like Drake and Kanye West. While I believe the aforementioned artists and soulful R&B will always have a spot I think the hybrid model has a much better future. Raheem Devaughn himself is a bit of a hybird artist. Either way it’ll be good.

  2. Typo-Critical

    December 8, 2010 at 5:22 PM

    To a degree, I think you’re right about the hybrid model, at least for the start of the next decade. I like to believe that every period of time is defined by a particular kind of music or musical movement, in every different genre. I think the reason we have a lot of this hybrid model is just because of the times (which I’ll elaborate on in Part II, I think – changing times = changing sounds). I think Drake and Lil’ Wayne and all will have some longevity, but the reason they thrive so much now is because the current youth culture is so obsessed with the material and the lavish (bottle popping, nice cars, lavish lifestyle, etc.). What is becoming more prevalent as we got closer to the end of this decade, though, are “downside of fame” stories in rap especially. Weezy, Yeezy, Jay, and even Joe Budden have become a lot more somber (to me, anyway).

    But yeah, ideally, it can’t get any worse, right? (Part III)

  3. realist23

    December 8, 2010 at 8:04 PM

    “As we approach the end of the first decade of the new millennium, I’ve really started to wonder about the future of music.”

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t we already in the new decade? Rather than hoping and prognosticating, we should look at what the second decade of the 2000’s has already brought us. I’m hopeful like you are based on what I’ve heard this year, but we have enough evidence to believe that R&B will be just fine from 2010-2019. I’m glad that I’m hearing more true R&B that doesn’t need a rap verse to make it to airwaves.

    Also, with Pandora, Groove Shark, and other customizable music stations, urban radio is becoming obsolete with its 12 song rotations (look at any “hip-hop and R&B’s” playlist online and see how many different current songs you’ll find). We are no longer limited. Music is everywhere. We just have to sift through the commercial stuff to find the gems.

  4. MichaelYoungHistory

    December 8, 2010 at 8:26 PM

    This was a PERFECT post to put the Five 5enses up…Just saying…

  5. Tie

    December 13, 2010 at 8:21 PM

    I am hopeful but I also understand that unless these talented and gifted artists such as Jazmine Sullivan and Marsha Ambrosius get the publicity and support needed to actually sell records, we will be without the music that our soul craves. In the 90s, there was a song for almost each feeling you had from Mary J “You Remind Me” to Hi-Five “Kissing Game” to Groove Theory “Tell Me” to Aaliyah “If Your Girl Only Knew.” If you were trying to express your feelings to someone you could just play a song for them and they would understand yet that is not true of today; there might be a stanza that supports your feelings but the rest of the song could hinder your feelings. There are many artists today that our soul would crave if we knew of their music like Eric Roberson, Leela James, PJ Morton, Lalah Hathaway, Goapele, and Emily King.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: