The death of American R&B
James B. Golden | 4/13/2011, 5 p.m.
There are still some remarkable American artists who are unwilling to relinquish their Soul roots. Jennifer Hudson, Monica, John Legend, Fantasia, Eric Benet and Faith Evans have all released albums recently that were just as phenomenal, if not superior to their earlier works. They are still holding fast to the idea that R&B will re-emerge as America's chosen genre, as it was in the 1990s.
To answer the thought-provoking question about R&B being on its deathbed, I've realized that Black American Soul music has been the driving force for our social and spiritual emancipation--from the earliest records of Nina Simone and Billie Holiday to the legendary songs of James Brown and Aretha Franklin. Even Hip Hop has incorporated Soul music into its sound, with releases in the early 1990s by Jodeci, Mary J. Blige, TLC and SWV.
American R&B is not dead.
It's simply regrouping and waiting for audiences to love American R&B once again by supporting the artists who have shaped the sound of Soul around the world. It also calls for newer artists to rise, allowing the best performers of our generation to become legends while younger singer-songwriters grab the microphones, riding into the next chapter of Soul music.
James B. Golden, MPA, is a Los Angeles-based music journalist. He has previously edited the Hip Hop Think Tank academic journal and Kapu-Sens Literary Magazine. Golden was a music columnist at Say It Loud!, the San Fernando Valley's Black newspaper. He is the author of a Hip Hop poetry collection entitled "Sweet Potato Pie Underneath the Sun's Broiler."