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:
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’).”
**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.”**