Got a Crush...
I found a love that exists in 3 hours...
This was a moody summer for me, and I found my way back to tenderness. It started as a harmless playlist, with very few women -- Sade, Solange, and Lil Kim to name a few -- and then I found myself spiraling into Outkast, Snoh Aalegra, and Kelela. I couldn't help but feed into it, R&B tunes lifted me back into consciousness, and helped me wake up from delusion..
There is probably already an abundance of analysis that get into the mechanics of R&B, but I want to continue with my own blabber. Contemporary R&B changed the limits of instruments since the common trend of electronic beats, carried out by masters like Pharrell, but also with jazz and rap, as triumphed through Sade and SZA.
R&B has transformed love languages. Pioneers like Marvin Gaye performed classic rhythm and blues as serenades, which helped build the foundation for the genre to explore love in all its intimacy. I believe R&B created a language for passionate love, a desperation to be loved and touched, which liberated sexual expression along this theme. It's fun, experimental, emotional, and yearning.
Above its exploration in sexuality and love, R&B has a rooted history in arching musical expression with racial dynamics. This is a genre that came from Black musicians and genres, and has histories that merge blues, rock & roll, EDM, among many others. Kiara (K Shay) explains the general history of R&B in a video essay best, in understanding the general timeline of R&B evolving through history.
K Shay: Short History of R&B Music
While exploring that, I recognized a pattern of women artists creating the R&B industry through instruments, rhythm, and lyrics. They have been successful in all elements, and have continued to broaden the spectrum with fusion and experiment through rap, jazz, and pop. Although majority of the playlist are women artists, there are a few male exceptions I made space for too.
With all said, I'm not claiming this genre that explores love and sex to women artists exclusively. There are certainly men artists that produced great R&B. R&B explored love, happiness, hate, and disappointment. For an industry that made taboo of women talking in these lights, R&B provided a space.
Solange is known for her modern works in pop and R&B, especially from her latest album When I Get Home. Although underrated, her early works in pop and R&B are a refreshing tune of her starting points and vocal development. Her experiment through music produced beautiful symphonies, and later birthed A Seat at the Table, which brought home a Grammy for Best R&B Performance. Her journey has been a development of contemporary R&B and soul, and has stayed consistent through every era. Solange's development seems most similar to Brandy's, in musical maturity and experiment.
Bahamadia blurs hip hop, rap, and R&B through her most genius and overlooked album Kollage. She had a brief break through in the industry since her label did her dirt, but her rhythm in rap and adlibs are unique to her voice. I really like the little "true" in the back, also recognized as an adlib on Lil Kim's track Crush on You. Still trying to find who did it first, since both tracks were published in 1996.. anyways.
N.E.R.D is another classic rap, funk pop, and punk group. I think Breakout is a great energy mesh of rap R&B and punk on a track. It's also cool to see how relevant punk is to the genre of R&B. Breakout pushes that energy best among many others in Fly or Die.
There's plenty more I could ramble about, but I'll leave the rest of the music.. maybe dissect more groups and artists in another post.. thinking thoughts.