The R&B Renaissance

 |  May 2, 2011
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Something weird is going on in R&B music right now.  For one, I’m listening to it.  I like to consider myself a rap nerd to the core.  I’m not going to lie, I have tons of respect for entertainers like Beyonce & Rihanna.  That being said I don’t listen to their music on my ipod.  I obviously hear their music in everyday life and know who they are.  However, I’m not jamming out to “Single Ladies” on the F train on the way to work every morning.

In the past couple of months there has been a little bit of a reformation in the genre.  At least in my opinion.  I’m not as familiar with the history of R&B music as I am with hip-hop, so maybe this has happened before.  However the content of the music has seemed to become a lot more edgier.  It’s not the generic pop music that people tend to associate with the  genre of R&B in 2011.  Rather an organic movement of artists who make music with soul, not necessarily music for the radio.  Below are three artists who I feel embody this evolution of R&B.

weeknd

The Weeknd

First off what a great name.  The Weeknd embodies everything we seem to enjoy.  You know what the Weeknd enjoys?  Doing cocaine with beautiful women in lofts.  At least that’s the vibe you get from his music.  Straight rock star sh*t.  However, he manages to do this all with an aura of sadness.  Almost to establish how self defeating the lifestyle is, only he can’t seem to stop living it.  There is just this perpetual feeling in his music that he is drowning in emptiness.  I can’t quite put my finger on it.  Obviously the first step is to cop his House Of Balloons EP.  Then maybe check out the official unoffical video for “Glass Table Girls“.  You know you are making power moves when you create a music video that pretty much just samples scenes from Robo Cop.  The guy, Abel Tesfaye, is also super mysterious.  When the project first came about people didn’t even seem to know it was just one guy.  Even the photos of him in google images are super mysterious.  It’s this ambigousness that kind of attracts me to the Weeknd.  Sometimes the best marketing plan doesn’t consist of being everywhere, but by being no where.  The music is just on some spaced out weirdo sh*t.  Almost as if the dude knows something the listener doesn’t.  Who knows, maybe he does…

jhene

Jhene Aiko

This chick….I wanna have coco babies with her.  Not just because she is wicked hot, but because I f*ck with her wave.  She has been working with that whole TDE conglomerate, which put me on to her.  From the jump I knew she was something special.  She had the look, the demanor, and after sailing soul(s) dropped it can’t be argued that she also has the music.  Plus I felt like some of the themes in her music had a modern twist.  For example “Hoe” takes a theme like female sexual empowerment, but puts a 2011 spin on it.  Sheeeiiiit, that song was partly responsible for tackling the slut femenism trend right now.  The way women are approaching their roles as a woman are changing and I think that Jhene Aiko is potentially a voice for that generation of women.  Plus it’s the little things like how she will sample 50 Cent on production that has more elements of rock than anything.  Plus it’s not forced.  Only a boss can use 50 Cent samples to transend messages through progressive music.  Plus I like here uni-sexual perspective on dating with songs like “Stranger“.  “I meet’em everyday/they seem to be the same/lame/ok“.  Exactly how I feel about females.  Most of them are the exact same lame person.  I know I want more from Ms. Aiko.  Not many R&B chicks can get me to say that about them.

frank

Frank Ocean

Too be honest I see a lot of similarities between The Weeknd and out final artist Frank Ocean.  Both in their style and their content.  A lot of people are putting VS. between their names.  As if there is only one spot available.  However I think they might just be enough room for both these guys.  Even though I personally may enjoy The Weeknd more than Frank Ocean, I think that Frank Ocean is the best songwriter on this list.  I mean there is a reason your girl Beyonce is f*cking with dude. Things like that don’t just happen for no reason.  Plus the best songwriters seem to be the ones who can craft a song that has two meanings.  The cool guy underlying message, and then the basic one so that you can justify radio/don’t get the “moralists” panties in a bunch.  That is exactly what he did with the song “Novacane“.  Plus the guy is smart enough to just leave super hot girls half naked in a bed as a center piece to his videos instead of forcing himself in some generic R&B vid.  I co sign moves such as this.  Even the art for the project that put him on the map, nostalgia, ULTRA, ws on some different sh*t.  Too be honest I listen to Frank Ocean the least out of these three artists.  By no means is that a shot, because I think he may have the potential to do best in the commercial music world out of these artists.  If not for his song writing capablities alone.  Have you heard “Swim Good“?  get familar with this dude.  He might end up writing some of your favortie songs even if he isn’t the person singing them.