Features, Messages from the team

Who’s to blame?: A conversation about the state of R&B

Kel (@RunKelDat): Can we credit The Dream for this new wave of R&B?

Beamon (@BeamonDidIt): …And T-Pain

Kel: To me, not sonically. T-Pain was a big deal but it didn’t lean on pure R&B. A lot of those hits were Pop. Dream had that whole “I’m a piece of shit but love me anyway” wave going long before these new cats.

Beamon: You are a T-Pain hater.

Kel: I love that nigga yo but Bryson Tiller, Ty Dolla $ign & Jeremih all follow that Dream blueprint more than him. It’s really a testament to his music, T-Pain can’t be duplicated.

Tauran (@TheKidMowgli): R&B died a long time ago in my opinion. These dudes aren’t even “Singing” on these tracks. More so just carrying a tune over mild Hip-Hop productions….Ok maybe it hasn’t died but it drastically evolved into what it is today.

Kel: I don’t think it’s dead. The good shit just tends to get overshadowed. For example look at how undervalued a talent like Miguel is to this day.

Tauran: I agree and I blame Drake. Like go look at the top male R&B albums. I bet the majority of those dudes sound trash singing acapella. (Yes, I’m look at you The Weeknd)

Kel: You have a point. All these dudes structure their music similar to Drake and even sing about the same shit. Absolutely. Even Jeremih I was like this nigga jamming but he can’t hold a note for shit. There is a lack of songwriting too. Ne-Yo and The Dream are far removed from the top. The ones who can write (Bruno, Miguel, Frank) keep it for themselves.

Beamon: I mean even someone who is joked about so much like Omarion had skill and hits back in the gap. I mean real R&B hits about love and all that shit. It ain’t cool to admit these days but there was a point when he first went solo and couldn’t miss.

Kel: Yeah, Omarion had hits. That 06-10 age of R&B was our golden age. Pretty Ricky, Usher, T-Pain, Trey Songz, J Holiday, Lloyd, Mario, Dream, Ne-Yo, Pleasure P and I’m sure I’m missing more.

Beamon: Anthony Hamilton, Sammie had some heat, Musiq Soulchild…it was a different time.

Tauran Harper: Can we add Jamie Foxx?

Kel: Jamie falls in the time frame because that album with “Blame It” knocked.

Beamon: John Legend! Can’t forget his slave-voice having ass.

Kel: How much blame can we give Chris Brown for the current sound too? I kinda lean towards Chris more than anyone.

Beamon: Bhris Brown be singing blood. Content aint about shit most of the time but vocally he is top tier.

Kel: He really can he just can’t sing and dance at the same time lol. That’s what I meant too about content because singers do duplicate him. He is the only one who excels a that piece of shit BF music because we all know that’s really him. When he is in pure R&B mode though Chris Brown is amazing. He is fucked up but he has a lot of heat.

Beamon: Yeah Chris is a legend if he dies today. He gets in his own way so people don’t give him all of his credit. Look at it though other that right after the “Rihanna incident” he has given solid hits every year for what? About 10 years now? Such a frustrating individual to root for though.

Tauran: Agreed. Imagine if Michael Jackson came out in this era with the same issues and same success he had. They would slam him way harder than Chris.

Beamon: They would bury MJ alive man. It’s sad how bad they did him already without the social media involvement. I could only imagine.

Kel: Imagine R. Kelly lol..the memes alone would kill him. Usher should get more credit than he does too. He has put out amazing music post-Confessions that the public doesn’t seem to give a fuck about.

Beamon: Part of that was just how good Confessions was. It became a gift and a curse. Kind of like with Lil Wayne no matter how tough a verse of his is in 2016 it’ll get ignored because its not “the old Wayne”.

Kel: That’s unfair. I believe thats why Justin Bieber took so much time in between his last couple of projects too. Sometimes you have to make us miss you to pop again.

Beamon: Something that Wayne badly needs to understand. The only break he has ever taken was because he was in jail and he still managed to drop an album in there.

Tauran: To be honest Drake can use a small hiatus too.

Kel: He pretty much did in 2014 but you’re right. He isn’t slowing down anytime soon. In his defense the quality hasn’t diminished so I understand staying busy but you can and will burn out.

I really forgot how dope the Dream’s discography is now that I went back and listened. The way his albums were mixed and organized was amazing. When was the last time yall listened to “Love vs. Money”?

Beamon: Love/Hate is the best one but a few months back. He has some true classics though.

Kel: The entire trilogy is unmatched.

Tauran: Where does Ready rank amongst this generaion’s R&B albums? Our generation meaning 2000+?

Beamon: Top 5 to me, maybe.

Kel: Besides that gay ass album art Ready was flawless. What else should be considered?

Tauran: Confessions has to be #1 right?

Beamon: Or FutureSex/LoveSounds.

Tauran: Is that Justin Timberlake’s best album? 20/20 part 1 might win in my opinion.

Kel: 20/20 is what I would lean towards to because it should age better. I agree with Beamon though Ready is top 5.

Tauran: Ready has aged well.

Kel: Speaking of Trey, it’s a damn shame he couldn’t get bigger. Those first three albums were fire then he wanted to call women bitches on songs.

Tauran: Pleasure and Pain had a lot of duds.

Beamon: Think he loved the fame too much.

John Legend’s first album was a player’s handbook. Criminally underrated it may fall in that top 5 too.

Tauran: “Unpredictable” in 2005 had those jams.

Beamon: We forgot Maxwell. “BlackSummersNight” was the shit. Year of the Gentlemen from Ne-Yo too.

Kel: Just hit me all of these albums are a bit old. R&B is missing a true classic. How many years has it been since they cranked one out? House of Balloons? Kaleidoscope Dream?

Beamon: You know I don’t fuck with the Weeknd but I can see Miguel. Off the top of the head the only other one I can think of is Frank Ocean “Channel Orange”.

Kel: Who has the best overall catalog between Usher and Chris Brown? Seems we pretty much narrowed it down to those two holding the torch after R. Kelly. I think Chris Brown definitely makes better “party” music but Usher wins the ballads.

Tauran: Usher wins in my book. My boss be jammin the Usher Pandora station and that nigga had the 2000’s on lock.

Kel: He blew up at the perfect time. MJ and R. Kelly were going through legal shit. The path was straight forward. Was set up for Chris to take over too after Exclusive (dope album btw) but we all know what happened next.

Beamon: I’m torn but Usher has a much larger catalog so I have to choose him…..Confessions, man.

Kel: Is Usher’s catalog really that much bigger at this point? Chris Brown is lowkey more consistent although Usher has the best project under his belt.

Tauran Harper: Here I Stand was a pretty damn good album too.

Kel: Here I Stand is insanely underrated even with that weak ass “Moving Mountains” track.

Beamon: NO MOVING MOUNTAINS SLANDER!

Tauran: I second the Moving Mountains slander.

Kel: Moving Mountains was WEEEEEAAAAAKKK!!!!!

Beamon: He oversang it but its not weak at all.

Kel: Am I the only one who noticed Usher put Jay on a track about loving marriage and then like 8 tracks later Usher tried to fuck Jay’s wife on “Love in this Club” remix?

Tauran: Haha, the ultimate snake in the grass move. Usher was never the same after Chili.

Kel: Another question. Who do you all think will have the longer career path when its all said and done. Usher or Chris?

Beamon: I feel Chris Brown will have the longer career when its finished. Usher has had a historic run but the way that Chris Brown can blend genres will keep him relevant long in the future.

Kel: I think Usher will though. Chris can’t make party music forever. Just ask R. Kelly, he should be churning out slow tempo music. That’s the thing with Usher as long as he can still sing he will always be invited to events and make it. Keep it 100, Chris Brown minus dancing is not as entertaining and you can’t dance at his quality forever. That’s not a slight only fact.

Beamon: You may be right but it just seems like the tide is changing. Rap is softer at the top of the spectrum with people like Drake, J. Cole and Kendrick running it. Your “assholes” flourish more easily on the national scale in R&B. That just plays into Chris’ hands in my opinion.

Kel: Where does R&B go from here?

Beamon: The trend will more than likely continue with the sound being what it is and artists like Miguel getting the short end of the stick. We have all complained throughout the thread but at the end of the day every one of us jammed TrapSoul, Late Nights or even Ty Dolla $ign’s album. The shit just works for this current time frame. It’s hot. I feel there should be a better balance between “traditional” and “new R&B” but as long as the new stuff gets the mass reaction its been getting its going to be hard to get that balance. You have to be in the game at least 8 years or be Sam Smith to get your ballad on radio.

Kel: The love is missing from the genre and that’s really crazy to think about. You can’t sit with your lady and just vibe without hearing fuck boyu lyrics or them saying how they are gonna take your bitch. It’s a recent evolution of the game. Hopefully it gets back to that because we aren’t that far removed from “Adorn” tearing up the radio. Even with Bruno Mars, “When I Was Your Man” fucked up radio. Love and pain is absent. Singers are scared to be vunerable because they look at it as weak. As old as this is about to sound “grown and sexy” eveloved into a bunch of niggas singing about bitches and hoes.

Beamon: I agree but in the end these new guys have vunerable moments which gives me a slither of hope. That Bryson Tiller “Lord please save her for me” line from Exchange was probably the most heartfelt shit on an R&B record last year. I guess only time will tell.

Tauran: Exactly. Y’all hit it on the head.

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