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Monday, February 9, 2009

GUEST BLOGGER!!!

I introduce to you... Joelle Bayaa. This amazing writer is one of my many muses... Remember that 'burn book' I confessed to writing in my 25 things? This dashing individual was the co-author. While I do admit that we work better as a team, as a result she will be gracing you with her thoughts from time to time... TRUST, you won't be disappointed...

Chris Brown, the demise of urban music, and why the Grammy's sucked?



The Grammy's this year sucked. Really bad. Okay... well, maybe they didn't suck, but they weren't good. And, watching the Grammy's, I couldn't help but reflect on the night's drama, as well as the state of urban music.
Rewinding back, before the infamous Janet Jackson-Nipplegate fiasco, Beyonce-itis, and commercialism of soul and R&B music (I'd say the late 90s to the beginning of the millenium, circa 1999-2001), urban music (I will use the term 'urban music' to incompass all things soul, R&B, hip-hop, and rap) was at a different point. We had our 'pop' stars (Janet Jackson, Michael... at the end of his era, Destiny's Child), rap and hip-hop was just emerging and taking hold of mainstream media (thanks to hit-makers Jay-Z, Ja Rule, and Nelly), and urban music was experiencing a resurgence of depth, spirituality, and maturity in its music (Jilly from Philly and D'Angelo with his Voodoo to name a few). Urban Music was in a good place.
But circumstances (budget cuts in promotion and A&R in the record companies, slumping sales, digital downloads, Janet Jackson's nipple) brought urban music down into the current rut it's in, and to the Grammy's last night.
Watching the Grammy's gave me an eerie case of urban music deja vu as it seemed like it was nothing but a recycling and rehashing of the same artists throughout the whole night (the only ones missing were, Chris Brown and Rihanna, and Beyonce... probably because she wasn't up for any awards). The few R&B and hip-hop performances sprinkled throughout the evening were okay... okay, for what they were for, they were cool (the 'Swagger Like Us' performance wasn't half bad and Lil' Wayne's tribute to New Orleans was actually decent). True; Jennifer Hudson did give a moving performance and did win the first award of the evening... but, that was it. For the majority of the night, we were treated to mash-ups of what few urban artists were allowed on the show, renderings of old Motown and soul hits (which seems to have become a staple for 90% percent of the urban artists enlisted to perform) or, my favorite, blue-eyed soul artists (Justin Timberlake, Robin Thicke) that are serve as our helping of urban artists for the night (Now, don't get me wrong; I love Robin Thicke just as much as the next one and Future Sex/Love Sounds as much as the next one... but still).
And, I honestly think that the Grammy's in itself wouldn't have been half bad if the focus was on the music, and the urban artists who were there contributing the music of the night, and not Chris Brown.
Chris Brown was our last beacon of urban music: an urban artist who was clean, wholesome, and had universal appeal. He is cute. He could sing. He could dance. He could sell records. He was our 'Micheal Jackson'. We'll never know what happened that night, but we do know what it will mean. Chris Brown went from cute, all-around likeable singer to another write-off as the stereo-typical black male singer. He will be used, along with examples from the past, of why urban artists aren't invited to perform on mainstream music programs or any program for that matter. Our urban artists will continue to be reduced to singing hits of the past, instead of the current hits they sing.
True; we can never go back in time. There will never be another Motown-era, Disco, 80s, or 90s Neo-Soul movement. But, there is hope. Good urban music is still being made and created (God bless Jazmine Sullivan). We just have to start listening and supporting our artists, and shut down the slander and smearing of urban music (Chris Brown; please get it together! Stop fueling the fire!). And until then, I'm on protest-mode with the Grammy's.

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