The Evolution Of R&B : The romanticised Genre...

Seems like just yesterday when one could turn on the radio and be guaranteed a good time just by listening to what was on the radio. Music was genuine and wasn't tabloid driven. Artists spent their time honing their crafts, and labels were taking time developing artists that would stand the test of time. It was when an artist didn't d├ębut within the top ten or their first week numbers were not great, that the label didn't necessarily put an artist on their chopping block.

Many artists from this era never hit number 1 on the billboard 200. But yet, their careers are legendary and memorable with various platinum awards. This is a time when labels worked an album to the last song and artists promoted genuine works that truly were crafted with the intent of having a solid body of work. 

It's important to note as well that in that era, not debuting at number 1 didn't mean lack luster sales. Labels took their time and effort to create solid body of works that they could work on with all formats and would be able to push the album over a well crafted period to ensure maximum output from the album. The question here now is WHAT HAPPENED? 

Many would be quick to say that the dwindling sales are to blame or that piracy and illegal music downloads are to blame. I BEG TO DIFFER. One look at the likes of Adele and Taylor Swift will show you that when the masses are given a good quality product, parting with their hard earned money is a no brainer. People will be willing to purchase an album if it is done well. So yet again, the question comes up, what happened and WHEN did things go wrong?

In the 90's, the genre lines in the music industry were very clearly defined. Pop music was purely pop, R&B was  just that, country music was country and every other genre was just that. Very few artists were big enough to dance across the lines of genres and even then, these artists maintained a very solid fan base in their base genre and would only do crossover songs or works to work their songs across formats. This was mostly done in the form of remixes. 

One look at Mariah Carey before 2000 will show you that she was a pop artist who used to re-record her albums as remixes for the hip-hop/ R&B market. This worked well because she would have 2 versions of the same product but yet have them spread across genres to ensure both markets had a product that was tailor made for it. 

Somewhere, around the year 2000, the divides between genres became vague. A lot of the pop artists started heavily relying on urban collaborations and producers to influence their work. The divide between genres started to become obliterated at an exponential rate. 

We had the likes of Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake and various other pop artists leaning heavily on the urban pull. Suddenly urban became cool for a long time. This looked good (on paper) because the urban (black) artists benefited from the sudden interest in their work by pop formats. It became easier for urban artists to "cross over" which meant that a record that would take 6-8 months to work suddenly took a couple of weeks and a lot of the up and coming urban artists benefited from this. This is the era where the likes of Ashanti, Ciara and other new artists of that time came out. 

However, this meant that substandard work would fly by easily because the labels and artists had no incentive to push for the artists to produce good albums. It was an era in which it became a producers market. It meant artists were merely the vehicle that producers used to put out their works and this resulted in a lot of monotony of sound, and no real creativity for the artists. Microwave artists popped out and a lot of them made a quick buck in the process without becoming developed as artists or even just as a brand.  

In my contributions to this blog, I will be focusing on bringing spotlight to the artists and musicians that have slipped under the radar in a quest to draw back the attention to good music. I will be doing weekly reviews of albums, shedding light on artists that are up and coming and making contributions to the genre of R&B. 

We here at Toya'z World want to  reintroduce a genre that have been obscured and distorted by the industry. We would like to make a difference and not only be a place for all the hot topics but also shed light on what makes the hot topics relevant MUSIC. Small contribution it may be, but it takes one brick at a time to build a home. If you have any ideas or music you would like reviewed please contact us via the contact page. 

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