Saturday, November 15, 2008

What happend to Neo Soul?



Why is the latest iteration of ignorant bamma rap ascendant? T-Pain? Lil' Wayne? Come on. Whatever happened to neo soul? Too bourgie for the least common denominator? Too intelligent? Not enough $$ for white label executives (too expensive to produce)? Not escapist enough? What are your thoughts? Seriously--will this change? Can Barack and Michelle set a new aesthetic?
I know it's a function of youth culture, and every older generation harrumphs and grouses about the tastes of the younger one. Yet it appears we are reaching the end of that chain...a saturation point where you really CAN say that younger African Americans truly do have their heads up their asses? No taste? Fewer mores? Even more nihilistic...or in a fog of un-reality (e.g., "yeah when I get of school I'm gonna start my own club and record label and cage fighting league"). This is their music. The trouble is that there is little or no self-reflection. No critical thought. Hard to do when you're downloading ringtones instead of the reading. Neo Soul afficianados read...

27 comments:

Lisa said...

Don't look at me. I listen to World Music and spoken word, vintage folk... LOL

Robert M said...

Another call for the silky silky soul singer. Preach.

Ochyming said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ochyming said...

I think it reached to suicide.
I like Ragtime, still do!
I love fingerpicking as much I love Wolf Eye.
I like boogie, still do, listen to Japanese guitarist Tetuzi Akiyama's Don´t Forget To Boogie, it does not mimic the Boogie as MOST afro-american musicians today play the same thing from the back in the day, it brouth that sound to the future. If Sun Ra can influence people in Japan as Sister Rosetta [whose guitar playing sits even today very WELL along with ROCK music] did playing guitar in a church, WHY Afro-americans cannot listen to european or indonesian music?
But NO, they MOSTLY listens to what is BLACK!
What the fuck is Black Music?
It is hiop-hop only?

the music of ...
Charles Mingos,
Ben Harper,
Anthony Braxton,
Pamela Z,
Cecil Taylor,

... ARE all diferent and NOT hip-hop, not blues not smooth Jazz AT ALL!

I never liked smooth Jazz, i LOVE Albert Ayler more than Coltrane or Roscoe Mitchell or any Miles Davis. I love NOISE!

My guitar awful noises btw. Yes, I do not know how to play properly, but unlike the majority of afro-americans i listen to every kind of music, well minus opera, it is too emotive for me.

University students from Northen Europe and Japan know african-american/USA culture more than 99.99 % of afro-americans. This ignorance is self-imposed, i cannot say WHY, but it cannot be blindness.
I still SEE no difference between R&B of say, Otis Redding and much mainstream rock band today.
SO ART is the major contribuition of afro-americans to USA culture and to the World, stripping themselves of it could be dangerous, it would be like BEING BOTTONLESS.
Afro-american contribuition managed USA to be different, the majority of USA citizens ARE Europeans, so to stand apart!. Like Jackson Pollock looked into Jazz to BREAK from European painting tradition, as Picasso did by looking to african sculptures.

Afro-americans today marry themselves ONLY to Hip-Hop, what is NEW in hio-hop?
It still tied with experiences made by John Cage and others european illuminaries in the 40's, a deck and microfones from the late 70's.
Today hip-hop is POP music made by money greedy people. Of course there is exceptions!

Every ART movement MEANT not by the simbols it carry or maneuvers, but by its core Manifesto/Essence, Punk was not the swasticas, it was to kill rock&roll, Be-Bop was to evolve from the tradition, Free-Jazz mirrored the 60's ...

Hip hop is atagnation NOT evolution!
But DOES it mirrors afro-american mindset?

Anonymous said...

You are an elitist and hate your own people.

Violette said...

If listening to a broad range of music, instead to wallowing in the gutter, makes one elite, then I'm proud to say I'm elite.

Tafari said...

Saw a DC cat named Wes Fulton perform tonight in Detroit & we also wants to know how TPain, T.I. etc are changing the game.

Music is going down the tubes...

Tafari

Tafari said...

Violette, I stand with you as a elitist!

Monica said...

Have you considered that neo-soul artist are moving to the next thing?

Black musicians innovate and by the time everyone else catches up, they have moved on to the next thing.

Therefore a better question is,what's post-neo soul? What's post snap?

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

I'm clearly too old for hip hop now. The last rap CD I bought was Kanye's first CD. I'd rather listen to P.E. (the big rap stars of my college days) than 95% of the rappers out there now.

The fact that music was gutted out of the public schools and that "producers" like Puffy think taking an entire Police track and rapping over = equals music is why we are seeing all this crap.

I know every generation says their music was better but something really foul is going on. My sister is ten years younger than me and even she complains about the nonsense on the charts now.

Sam Cooke's "A Change is Gonna Come" great song was a hit. Where are songs like that now esp. during these hard times? Where are the love songs? Songs that make your heart hurt when you hear them?

Where are the artists who have something to say, who can actually play a damn instrument? Where are the artists who inspire you? Where?

Regarding Neo-Soul, Maxwell is coming out with a new CD soon. Not sure what Ms. Scott is doing. She should have a bigger career. She's an excellent singer. Why she wasn't cast to play Etta James instead of Beyonce? Isn't Jill's vocal styling closer to Etta's?

Ochyming said...

@monica

I dare you to point a creative afro-American musician out there under 25 (I mean one that is DOING original things on an instrument, including a DJ deck).
Just one!

...

If you listen to music from all over the world (forget MTV), you'll stop thinking like that.

Anonymous said...

What?! Chris, Soul lives Forever! And it's way more diverse than just Ms. Scott & Maxwell.

Mint Condition (Nothing left 2 say?!)
Wayna
Dwele
Rahsaan Patterson
Kindred
Chrisette Michele
Ledesi
Amel Larrieux
Raphael Saadiq
John Legend
Sy Smith
India Arie
Avant
Glenn Lewis
Angie Stone
Gnarls Barkley
Eric Benet (w/ his beautiful daughter - YouTube singing "you're the only one"!!!)
Anthony Hamilton
Raheem Devaughn!!!
Kenny Lattimore
MAYSA (for crying out loud!)
Corinne Bailey Rae
Musiq
Ne-Yo
I even hear Daryl Hall & John Oates are working again (thank God)
And on and on and on.
Even your man Dr Cornel West is dropping compilation CDs for you. (sidebar- thanks for the Princeton info. We are working on some follow up questions)
Anyway, there are hoards of independent artists out there doin the dang thing that you've never heard of.

Dude- Make haste! Git thine self to:

www.soultracks.com

P.S. we collectively dropped the neo. That's just sooo 2005!

Adrienne

lincolnperry said...

Neo-Soul is alive and well!
Vinx
Julie Dexter
Meshell
Lalah Hathaway
Musiq
Jill Scott
Donnie
Chris, what you listening to...

lincolnperry said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Obamas new aesthetic? Bourgie possibly.

Monica said...

@ochyming:

Your assumptions speak to your ignorance.

I do listen to other types of music. One of my favorite genres is timba: a fusion of Afro-Cuban rhythms, jazz and (clutch your pearls) hip-hop.

Oh my bad, I forgot, if it's rap with a foreign accent it's world music. (So I guess I listen to world music)

Perhaps you should consider applying same open-mindedness to modern Black (american) music as you do to world music. You'll ahead of the curve in your crowd because whatever Black musicians are doing today, the rest of the musicians of the world will be doing a couple of years.

a work in progress... said...

What happened to Neo-Soul? Look to the UK or Germany -- it's alive an well there, but virutually dead here. At least our generation had GREAT music of our parents and older sibling from labels like Stax... Motown (and we know the long list of great artists that came from those lables) and as we came of age we had ANTHEMS! Yeah! ANTHEMS! from the like of McFadden and Whitehead's call to cerebral arms Ain't No Stopping Us Now.

Today's generation is dead in the water. Their music is the celebration the desensitization of all things deadly.

It's sad testament of our time.

a work in progress... said...

Sorry about the spelling

Ochyming said...

@monica


Did i said world music?
Do you KNOW what is world music?
It does NOT mean Folklore!
Talking of ignorance!

Modern Black music?
UH?
Do you know what is MODERN music?

Ochyming said...

Just to make my point!
BOOKS on Music, Afro-american contribution until NOW!

No hip hop Book related, tho. this is about the BIG scope!

This is a writer blog anyway!
Here they GO>

-Black Music by Leroi (amiri Imamu Baraka) Jones

-A Power Stronger Than Itself: The AACM and American Experimental Music by George E. Lewis, wikipedia BIO, he build this computer system that he called voyager and perform with it.


What is striking is HOW musicians were actually intellectuals back them (and WHAT is called BLACK music WERE actually a Broad way of communicating, many "genres", NOT variations on a theme like the nowadays use of NEO and such shits!), even drug heads like Coltrane, M. Davis, C. Parker, ... Today EVEN artists that went to university (i didn't, choose NOT to, and still regret it!) ARE dumb! - P. Daddy!

Anonymous said...

SoCal 82Tiger Asks:

Professor and Ochyming:

Could it be the death of Neo Soul (or Nu Soul) is not just a matter of the public losing interest in the stale reprising of musical territory already covered in the 1950's, 60's, & 70's; but also because the delivery of music to the masses has become so fast and fluid that "movements" such as Nu Soul are done and over as our pop culture moves onto the next rage.???

I might propose that the democratization of music via the Internet is making control of the music by the large music marketing departments of the dinosaur media groups of this industry almost impossible. Their lack of control means movement and tastes are moving at speeds they cannot keep up with. The result is seeing the death of musical forms that might have lasted for generations in another time and place...

In essence all music is suffering from accelerated decrepitude & they celebrate becoming "oldies but goodies" in their adolescence!!

It's just a thought that it's not just about vision, talent and creativity....

Anonymous said...

Soul = "the stale reprising of musical territory"

Hardly. Don't believe what you hear on the FM dial.

"I might propose that the democratization of music via the Internet is making control of the music by the large music marketing departments of the dinosaur media groups of this industry almost impossible. Their lack of control means movement and tastes are moving at speeds they cannot keep up with."

Yes, the internet has proliferated the democratization of music and allowed the masses to explore and enjoy more avant-garde tastes.

Yet, it is this technological evolution that is facilitating- not killing- the growth of subcultures. It allows the ear of the people to decide what is and is not "a hit" even redefining the measure of a hit. I give you Satellite Radio, Twitter, and MySpace pages for example.

The obscure Soul artist working a club gig in Philly or DC can now share music with the aficionado in Mudflap, Missouri and Kuntree, Kentucky without the use of MTV, a major label, or a tour bus.

Now if you are referring to Soul music in the ADD mainstream, then yes, those stylings of popSoul that are more suited to the Stouffers chicken potpie palette of the masses are stale and fleeting.

Ochyming said...

@anonymous

You wrote:


Could it be the death of Neo Soul (or Nu Soul) is not just a matter of the public losing interest in the stale reprising of musical territory already covered in the 1950's, 60's, & 70's; but also because the delivery of music to the masses has become so fast and fluid that "movements" such as Nu Soul are done and over as our pop culture moves onto the next rage.???



I was "speaking" about ART in general, ART is NOT entertainment,
and how afro-americans has been castrating themselves by FLUSHING down all their achievement.

But NO, current pop music made by "producers" relies on post-modernism, it just regurgitates sounds from the 70's, listen carefully from hip hop or it satellites, are full of samples from 70 and 80's. the rest is technology badly used.



It's just a thought that it's not just about vision, talent and creativity....


Actually there is allot of talent, even in hip hop - RZA is an example, but talent NEEDS focus, without which there is NO vision!

The focus is GREED!
Maybe that is the problem.

Anonymous said...

SoCal 82Tiger Says

Ochyming -

Thanks for the follow up... If I hear you correctly we may not be in disagreement on popular music. Your breath of knowledge and insight into the history & art of music is appreciated by myself - A person incapable of actually making music but appreciative when I hear well-composed and performed music.

I think a major problem for music in today's world is that like film is they are both seen as art and commerce. They are not mutually exclusive but they often compete against one another. Sadly in our modern world art often loses out to the battle with commerce. It's been true in film for years and I suspect you might feel the same is true for music...

boukman70 said...

All right, first I've got to say, as an old guy and hater of Southern rap (excepting Outkast and Cee-lo), I actually liked half of Lil Wayne's new album. I think he's not as good as the critics hail but also a lot better than we old heads wanna give the brother credit for.

Now, neo-soul: the problem with that genre is the same problem faced by all aboveground music, it wasn't so much an organic movement as it was a corporate marketing scheme. Once you go beyond D'Angelo, Badu, and Jill Scott's first album, the genre becomes quite predictable and pat. Corporate homogenization turned a promising genre into "smooth jazz flavors" for gen x'ers. Once we moved out of the prime target audience, the genre petered out.

Personally, I think that R&B really hasn't thrived since the death of disco. My own collection has very little R&B past 1980. The death of high school music programs means we just don't have that many musicians. And the few we do have pretty much go into hip-hop (did you know Lil Jon used to be a jazz drummer back in the day in Atlanta?).

But I think that neo-soul's main problem is the same problem that be-bop and groups like P.E. faced: they committed the number one sin in black music. Neo-soul's just not danceable. It's all midtempo head nods. If you don't light up the club in black music, you just don't last.

Ochyming said...

@ boukman70

"I think that R&B really hasn't thrived since the death of disco."

Listen to Cat Power's The Greatest (BEST R&B in MANY years) or any by Jandek, but You Walk Alone is most R&B, albeit with No Wave flavor.

"t's all midtempo head nods. If you don't light up the club in black music, you just don't last."

What?
How DO you dance to On the Corner or to Billie holiday or Funkadelic's Maggot Brain?
Please!

I blame NO corporates, they are powerless actually, they just offer people What they want. They study the market and behave accordingly.

In the 60;s plenty of Free-Jazz musicians made records without receiving any money, and many died in misery and that period was the pinnacle of Afro-american music creativity.

SoulOnIce said...

THANK GOD Anthony Hamilton is coming to Dallas next week to bring some much-needed relief!

This is the first time I've been to your blog Doc, but it won't be the last. Good stuff, sir!