I keep hearing a lot that music isn’t what it used to be. We can all agree that change is good –and necessary over time. However, I think we can all also agree that the R&B music genre has taken a drastic turn musically and lyrically. The days of innocent “I Love Your Smile” are over like lunchboxes and Thermoses. But now, many artists we enjoyed as pubescent teens and ollege coeds are making comebacks, competing for radio airplay with artists 20 years their junior. I am a lover of all things old school, but should we welcome these artists back with open arms or send them back to the era of flat tops and cassette tapes? Let’s compare then and now.
Twenty years ago this week, “Don’t Be Afraid” by Aaron Hall was Billboard’s #1 U.S. Hot R&B/Hip-Hop song. On that list, sensations like Mariah Carey, En Vogue, and Tevin Campbell graced the chart. Back then, songs had more lyrical quality. En Vogue was a girl power group demanding respect toward women while Hall was the bald crooner every woman wished their man could be more like. You really loved what the artists had to say. Now, the sole requirement for a good song is a catchy beat to get you bouncing on the dance floor.