Saturday, March 24, 2007

Let's NOT Be Colorblind- Toya

I have been doing Toya's Boyfriend of the Month for a long time but the way I have been feeling about Elliott Yamin lately goes beyond a monthly crush. After hearing his debut album this past week and seeing how my man has come up (I loved him snaggletoothed anyway), I immediately wanted to FIND HIM. Not hear about him, watch him on Leno, see his new video, etc. No, I wanted to FIND him. Someone please warn him to not come to Nashville cause it's a problem.

I called, texted, and emailed Tia everyday last week to see if she had this record. To tell you the truth, it is just a GOOD record. Just good, not amazing. Out of 4 stars, I give it 2 1/2. I wish they would've let Elliott SANG more (turn up your CD player towards the very end of "You Take My Breath Away" to see what I mean). The songs, mostly ballads, are good songs and his cover of "A Song For You" does not make you want to run him down in the street like most Hathaway covers/imitations make me want to do. What I love about this album so much are the lyrics and Elliott's ability to sing these songs as if he means every word.

When I woke up with the sunlight
And dreams echoing through my head
And I heard you breathing softly I remember the things you said
There is no time there is no place that you would rather be
Then the good times all the hard times as long as you’re here with me
Cause I’m the man who holds my ground
I’m the man who sticks around
I’m the man to hold you tight
Cause I’m the man in love with you, with you

Give a shout of praise if you can get behind those lyrics! And while this song as well as many others on the album make me swoon and happy to be a girl, I have never been more grieved about the state of urban music as I am right now.

I looked on Rhapsody the other day and this was the chart for Top 10 Soul/R&B artists:

1. Joss Stone
2. Justin Timberlake
3. Akon
4. Amy Winehouse
5. Nelly Furtado
6. Beyonce
7. Musiq
8. Christina Aguileira
9. James Morrison
10. Fergie

Umm, ANYONE see a problem????

Robin Thicke has the #1 R&B song in the country with "Lost Without You". Now no fans are more happy about Robin Thicke's success than Tia and I are. While interning at a recording studio a while back, I remember him singing in the hallway and thinking to myself "OK, when is YOUR record coming out?" We've been fans from WAY back. 10 years later and he is deservedly getting his due. I don't have a problem with white artists doing soul music. I know quite a few artists that do and do it extremely well all with the knowledge and respect for the music truly being black music. I am not saying that there are no black artists singing love songs anymore. I have been wearing independent neo-soul artist Anthony David's "The Red Clay Chronicles" CD out to death (if you just asked yourself who that is then you should be able to see where I am going with this). My problem is that it seems to me that mainstream labels are encouraging white artists who do soul music to be able to sing about love while they are encouraging black artists to sing about anything but love. You may think this is far fetched but I have reasons to believe this to be true.

For one, I have some friends that are black soul artists that have gone into record label meetings where the executives try to persuade them to make their songs more sexual because that is "what's hot right now". I turned on the radio to 101.1 The Beat to find every R&B ballad I heard outside of Marques Houston's to be about infidelity and love gone wrong. EVERY SINGLE ONE. However on the same station I can hear Your Boy sing this:

Because, I can see us holding hands
walking on the beach our toes in the sand
I can see us in the country side
sitting in the grass laying side by side
You can be my baby
Gonna make you my lady
Girl you amaze me
Ain't gotta do nothin crazy
See all I want you to do is be my love

Then IN THE SAME song you hear T.I. say this ignant ish right here:
I'm patient, but I ain't gonna try
You don't come, I ain't gonna die
Hold up, what you mean, you can't go why?
Me and you boyfriend we ain't no tie
You say you wanna kick it when I ain't so high
Well, baby it's obvious that I ain't your guy
Ain't gon' lie, I feel your space
But forget your face, I swear I will
St. Barths, same bullet, anywhere I chill
Just bring wit me a pair, I will

I like Amy Winehouse a lot and will admit that Joss Stone's album is bananas. I am not mad at James Morrison at all either. However, I am absolutely furious at the lack of love songs sung by black people currently being played on the radio. I remember when Jesse McCartney's "She's No You" came out and while I loved the song, I wished it was Omarion or Usher who had recorded it and made a video that would undoubtedly be on 106th and Park; a video that would be played in the midst of all the horrible images that our young black girls see of black women that could say that no matter what the world's standard is of what's hot, the video girls can't even compare to their natural beauty. What a message that would send!

Is it any wonder that it seems that some guys don't even know how to talk to females anymore? It used to be back in the day the brother with the weakest rap game could get pointers from a Smokey Robinson record, a Luther Vandross record or even a Boyz II Men record. Now what do guys have?

Turn me on and Imma turn you (out)
You kno I love you like good food
You kno you fuckin wit a good dude
You kno you give good brain like you graduated from a good school
You kno Imma good move
You should do (me)So hey...shawty wat it is?
Da Carter who it is
Now shawty do it big
A party at my crib
Dats a party in da hillz
You call it wat you want
But she can call it wat she feel
-LLoyd's "You" featuring Lil' or Yung or Grown Enough to Know Better Wayne

We are so wrong to think for one minute that the state of our music does not affect the climate of our community and how we treat one another. Dead wrong. Life imitates art which imitates life and so on. Look at the rise of STD's amongst our young people. Am I saying that all of this is due to music? Of course not. But let's not give promiscuity a soundtrack. Or a theme song, right Timbaland?

I have made it my personal business that a certain amount of money out of each paycheck will go to supporting an independent black soul artist. Artists that would rather be independent than compromise the love of their music and the love of their people just to be hot for a moment. We must support these artists to keep the message of love flowing within our community. Hopefully if enough of us support these artists, the majors will take notice and the artists can sign record deals on their terms. I want my kids to have good music to listen to. I want them to go through my CD's like I went through my parents' collection of LP's and 45's and daydreamed about the love that LTD and Gladys Knight and the Pips sang about. I don't want my daughter going through my CD's asking me how old she has to be before she can have a shot of Petrone and if giving brain means sharing the notes she took in class that day. Something needs to change.

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