Yesterday evening, between glasses of red wine and episodes of Don't Forget The Words, I logged on to my laptop to basically surf the net and try to get my mind off of all the things that plague me. Yes, we are at the plague stage here people. My sanity can be found in a cheap liter sized bottle of Sutter Home Cabernet. Classy
Anyway, I was BS-ing and IM-ing a few friends about various topics of discussion, but the prevailing topic was music. Somehow I have managed to convince myself that no one reads my crazy ramblings but me, which apparently is not the case. I was chatting with a new found friend who apparently reads this borderline tabloid/ case study on psychosis, and I we got on the subject of a previous blog. You know, the one about the guy from Color Me Badd? Yeah I am not going to go there again, but somehow we got around to discussing Chico Debarge.
Chico makes good music, and actually that's an understatement. I instantly fell in love with Love Still Good, which I promptly tried to con The Makeup Girl into giving me when I first met her. She wasn't having any of that though. Seriously I don't know where I was or what my life was like when that album dropped (which is strange for me cause I equate everything with music) but I do remember the video for Iggin Me. It made an impression. Okay not just cause he was half naked in the video but seriously it was one of those songs. I did however note that I had JUST seen Chico in the Trick Daddy video Nan, and that he was fresh off a 5 year bid. Criminal is as criminal does, so I couldn't put too much stock into his sticking around the music scene. How does one disassociate themselves from crime hanging out with the Slip N Slide records camp? No matter, on to the song.
So we discuss a little further what about that song in particular was so wonderful. I don't know if we ever made it to that cause I was off that Cab Sav and not exactly on the straightest path to enlightened discussion, so you know I veered off track. See that song makes me think of Maxwell's "Till The Cops Come Knocking" which of course was my jam for the.longest.time.ever. but I digress, the topic at hand became the state of R&B and how far it seems to have fallen. Frankly I cant listen to my R&B station on Yahoo Radio cause that shit is not what I would classify as R&B. Maybe if it stands for Ridiculous Bullshit then yeah, but not so much what I would classify as Rhythm and or Blues.
I think that there are some folks attempting to bring it back. I mean, I love Robin Thicke and Chrissette Michele and Raheem DeVaughn. I think there is still some soul left in R&B provided it isnt turned into a hybrid of hip-hop and some sort of circus. I know they are trying to pass off Trey Songz, Chris Brown and Lloyd as R&B these days but you'll pardon me if I don't get excited. There is talent there I agree, but not one of them is about to become the next Smokey, Marvin, Luther, or Maxwell. Maybe I am just an old soul which I have been accused of before, or maybe they just don't do it like they used to anymore. None of these new songs have a chance in hell of getting me all hot and bothered.
Music, should have the ability to move you. It should conjure up feelings and emotions not just make you sway back and forth. There are songs that I hear that I will have to change the station in order to keep from crying. There are songs that will make take me instantly back to the moment I heard it. The Spinners "Rubberband Man" - 6 years old in my mother's old Chrysler Lebaron with the burgundy seats. The Manhattan's "Let's Just Kiss and Say Goodbye" - 13 at my best friend Trisha's house, sitting on the floor doing each others hair and singing (Steve Miller Band "The Joker" holds the same memory).
Prince's "Diamond's and Pearls" - Banneker Junior High School Friday night dances, wearing Elizabeth Arden's Red Door and my best pair of Reebok Classics. Guy's "Goodbye Love" or Fredrick's "Gentle" - Myrtle Beach with my Godsister singing to our mixtapes way too loud and wrong for some young girls. Maxwell's Urban Hang Suite "Something Somethin", Donnell Jones "You Know What's Up" and Montell Jordan's "Get It On Tonight" always remind me of dancing at Republic Gardens and Club 2K9. The big one's though are Teena Marie's "Dear Lover" and Anita Baker's "No One In The World" who as a love struck teenager I used to send homemade tapes and lyrics to the boys I liked, only to have them go "What the hell is this song".
Some songs have made me feel vulnerable, beautiful, strong, sexy and like I could be anyone or anything I needed to be. The point is that I really feel like for R&B to be good its gotta stir you in some way. It can't just flow past you like water, its got to grab you and suck you in. That's what I want from my R&B, but I understand that most folks just need to be entertained. I guess that's okay for them, but for me as it stands I want to feel my music, and if I don't then I figure it just doesn't count.