Over the last year or so, I’ve been going back to the music that I listened to when I was a kid. Aside from the mainstream top 40 pop of Britney, Christina and the boy bands, the main genre of music I listened to as a kid was crossover R&B. Aaliyah, Mary J. Blige, D’Angelo, Lauryn Hill, Brandy, Monica, TLC and others. These are the people I’ve been going back to. In my early years of begin aware of music, my parents would sing Motown, which will always be my favorite era of music, and this neo-soul and urban R&B movement that I experienced as a youngster, I view as my generations attempt and bring that feeing and soul back into music.
When I was younger, I would take my allowance and buy albums from these artists. I remember first hearing Aaliyah, seeing Brandy’s first video, and getting exciting when seeing TLC on an award show. I don’t know what happened to those CDs, I’m assuming in my transition into my teenage years, and young-adulthood, the societal pressure to like a certain kind of music took over, and they got lost. I ended up listening to the singer/songwriters of our day, which I still listen to and appreciate, with a need to incorporate my original love for the Urban, R&B, and neo-soul sound.
At the time, I remember thinking that the music of Brandy, D’Angelo, and others was somehow a commentary on my identity, and that was quite scary for a kid to think about, and in that age and mindset, and I unfortunately got rid of most of those CDs. When it was time to adapt to the digital age, and find my own musical niche, I found myself missing the R&B albums I had worked so hard, taking the trash out for when I was younger. So, in order to remedy this, over the last year, I’v been acquiring any, an all albums from this movement of R&B from the 90s and 2000s. Not only to recapture this amazing music, but also to rebel against this dance movement that is taking over all of music, and a lot of times, stripping the soul out of these artists.
However all is not lost, thankfully we still have artists like the ones I’ve mentioned coming back into the spotlight, as well as folks like Anthony Hamilton, Marsha Ambrosius, Ledisi, Jill Scott who are keeping this genre alive.
The article linked above is a showcase on D’Angelo, and his unfortunate absence over the last decade and a bit, and through some really rough times, it seems that the world will get the amazing gift of his music again soon. I encourage ya’ll to read the piece in GQ, it reminds me of the outstanding talent that he has, as well as that movement in music, and gives hope that we will be seeing his very, very long awaited third album in the next year.
Mary J. Blige’s “No More Drama” and “Growing Pains” on vinyl yesterday…I’m a very happy camper at the moment.