Monday, August 22, 2005

Do You Love What You Feel?-Toya

"Do You Love What You Feel?" is a song by the incomparable Rufus featuring Chaka Khan. Thank God for these new Grown and Sexy R&B Old School Radio formats that have been popping up or else we would probably never hear songs on the radio like this anymore.

I am saddened by the state of R&B music. Actually, let me revise that statement. I am saddened by the music that the music industry is trying to pass off as R&B music. I do believe that true R&B music, soul music if you will, lives on because people still experience the real hardships and heaviness of life: falling in love, being rejected and dealing with heart wrenching situations. I don't believe that it only lives on in samples or by those who recycle the sounds of Donny Hathaway and try to pass them off as their own. I believe that their are truly some innovative artists out there. They just aren't getting signed.

I believe that part of the problem is that the industry has muddled the lines of what R&B music is and what Rap is. Case in point I was listening to a Yahoo's R&B radio station at work and the first 5 songs were rap songs. They were the "For the Ladies" type songs like Fabulous' "Baby" or P. Diddy's "I Need A Girl". This is not R&B. This is rapping performed over R&B tracks. True it has elements of R&B but these are not R&B songs anymore than Run DMC's "Rock Box" is a straight up rock song. Somebody got it completely wrong when they allowed Billboard to combine their R&B charts with the Hip Hop charts. This has screwed up radio formats beyond all recognition and in turn has messed up sales for singers that don't have MTV appeal.

Before the fascination with the image of youth ran the industry we had real singers. Does anyone really think that our R&B stars of the 80's like Regina Belle, Anita Baker, Peabo Bryson and Freddie Jackson could come out now the same age they were then and get a record deal? Absolutely not. Video has truly killed the radio star. Being an artist nowadays has the same appeal that being an athlete used to. It used to be that brothas wanted to ball because it seemed like an easy way to get rich quick. Now, the new get rich quick scheme is to be a performer. Notice, I didn't say artist. An artists creates out of their gut because they have to. The reason why there is such an imbalance between those that are artists and those that are just strictly performers is because people are making money off of something that they care absolutely nothing about.

Music used to make us feel something. You felt a certain kind of way when you heard Angela Winbush tell you that "You Don't Have to Cry". I can look into the eyes of some of these artists and see that they do not love what they do. Oh they love what they get out of what they do but they do not love what they do. They aren't proud of their work. They don't feel "it" and admit it none of us have really felt "it" in a long time.

All is not lost though. I praise God for the Leela James' , the PJ Morton's (cop that RIGHT now if you don't have it), and the Anthony Hamilton's. I praise God for the independent artists that would rather be on the grind than sell themselves short for medium rotation on BET and have to give up 30 seconds of their own song to a Fat Joe cameo. These types of artists love and have pride in what they do. They respect themselves and they respect the music. Let's do what we can to support them and then maybe that will send a signal to these record companies that real music can still sell.

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