(laugh) Okay, wait a second and be easy! (laugh)
No offense with the title (Amy Winehouse), but it's very true.....the lack of trend-setting R&B singers has been something I've come across quite often when I scramble through my iTunes player.
Think about it for a minute, "who" out there is selling the most records? Beyonce. Alicia Keys. Shucks, let's even consider who is coming in at second best........Rihanna, Chrisette Michele, Mariah Carey? I mean, look at the R&B game right now, it took Sade dusting off her one-piece outfits after ten years just to drop an album that went gold in seven days....(with a major snow storm out in the East impacting those numbers, too.....)
So here we stand....a grip of great R&B females who, in fact, make dope records but fail to ignite the game. Sure, some might think I'm buggin' more than ever, but it boils down to "who" can be the ultimate trend setter, if you ask me. Ehhhhh, okay, there is "Lady Gaga," but we're talking about a genre of music that pushed the envelope in the past. In all honesty, I miss those Kelis days when she may have not pushed a lot of songs out of the retail stores, but maintained her own steez and pushed artists to cherish being unique...to say the least.
Maybe this posting really stems from an interview I read not too long ago, long story short, Kelis was sharing her thoughts on "swagger jacking" within R&B and how artists like Cassie and Rihanna were stealing looks she "originated." Even though she was talkin' greasier than KFC on an NBA on TNT Thursday night, I can't help but agree with her.
The "future" of R&B looks more like the past...sure, I give crazy props to my girl Amy Winehouse for re-inventing the soulful aspects of R&B and think she's done it with tremendous ability (just peep her sales and Grammy Awards), but watching and listening to what seems like recycled music and fashion? Ehhhh.......true, Cassie turned heads with her semi-shaved dome piece, but the music was flatter than Kid's 1980s shape-ups......and then you have artists like Alicia Keys (sorry Swizz Beatz) who makes powerful records but has more bipolar fashion decisions than a sneaker fanatic.
I guess what I'm getting at is the loss of individualism within R&B. Of course there will always be top-sellers but until I find someone willing to take a chance and be different, it's just upsetting. Not trying to sway too much into the pop world, but admire what Lady Gaga is doing for the genre. Sure, she has hits but taking her brand to the stage in the most eye-popping outfits out? Come on, that's so smart when you analyze it downward....
Even going with the hip-hop angle and seeing Kanye West. Rap lyrics are fresh, his early-30s age helps out being not "too" young and not "too" old but I feel his fashion, individualism, really carries him. From entering the rap game with backpacks and being associated with oversized bear mascots to putting his pink co-sign on Polo tops to extra tight jeans, he has helped paved his own lane in rap.
I look at R&B and worry about this same issue. Sure, when we really look into it, there are plenty of artists who just cannot cut into the mainstream or have not done so yet, but shouldn't the responsibility rest on the singers who are already out? That's why I jokingly suggest R&B singers should have a sex tape leaked or do "something" to help spark a movement of interest and then, with that sustained interest, allow your music to reflect this new personality...
Of course it sounds like I'm just talking out the side of my neck, but all in all, R&B needs a spark. Pop has Gaga, hip-hop has Drake and now it rests upon us to take a never-before-seen weave, toss in some spiked soul instrumentals and challenge ourselves.