When was the last time you heard a great R&B love song?
I’m not talking about one of those cookie cutter pop tunes. I’m talking about a soul-stirring, make-you-wanna-cry love song? I’ll give you a minute to think…
Been awhile, huh?
As a brother in my twenties, I feel cheated! My grandparents had Marvin and Stevie. My parents had Luther Vandross and Gerald Levert. But who’s there to provide the soundtrack for Generation Y to fall in love? Artists like Chris Brown and Trey Songz are great at singing hooks that make folks move in the club, and may even help you get one back to the crib. But I wouldn’t put She Ain’t You and Sex Ain’t Better Than Love up there with Reasons or As.
It seems to me like R&B now stands for Riches and Bi#ches instead of Rhythm and Blues. R&B (and hip-hop) used to tell a story. Paint a picture. Now all we get is a cheap, forwarded text message.
So what happened? Is it a matter of music influencing culture or culture influencing music?
Unlike the majority of my peers, I grew up with a father in the home. One that loved music, and exposed my brothers and myself to timeless artists such as The O’Jays, Earth Wind and Fire and The Manhattans. I quietly expressed my disdain for the oldies while my friends listened to a brand of R&B that was increasingly focused on sex over love. Two of the most popular songs in my freshman year of high school were The Thong Song and Feelin’ On Your Booty. ‘Nough said.
Generation Y also grew up largely in homes with single parents or those shattered by divorce. Perhaps the stark realities of everyday life made an impression deeper than any idealistic lyrics about falling into a love that they’ve never seen.
In holding an honest discourse about the state of love songs in 2012, we have to give props to the artists who still put it down for all the lovers. Jill Scott, Anthony Hamilton and one of my personal favorites is Raheem DeVaughn. Unfortunately, these artists usually get far less label support than those who perform the more glossy, simplistic style of R&B that garners what little airplay hip-hop has left behind.
Whatever the reason for the death of love songs and despite the industry realities, I still haven’t given up hope. I know that somewhere out there, some new artist is waiting to blow up and give us the love that the R&B game has been missing for far too long. We’ll keep looking for you on Twitter and Youtube.
We need something to fall in love to.
Missed my last post: #TeamNatural: Are We Brothers on Board?