25 Things That Killed (and are Still Killing) Urban Music

40 Responses

  1. Preach it, my brother. PREACH IT!!!!

  2. Re: 14...
    Any DJ trying to break a record in a mainstream club will not be employed for long. No one wants to hear anything that hasn't already been crammed down their throats. And club owners micro-manage the shit out of you. Blaming DJs in this context is like blaming on-air hosts for the terrible music programming of their stations.
    As a DJ, if you drop the biggest hit on the planet, BEFORE the mass media has had a chance to brainwash people with it, it will flop like Paulus. I've experienced this many times over the years. Of course once the record is unleashed on the masses you will be pretty much attacked in the booth all night by folks clamoring to request it.
    Most folks that go to clubs these days are just stupid.
    I came up in the days of going to the club to hear something I'VE NEVER HEARD BEFORE. Nowadays when I dispense face crack by turning down requests, bammass be like "I've got my iPod".
    So I don't play those gigs anymore. But I'm also still pretty unknown compared to the years I've been in the game and I don't make much loot. I get to play what I want but it's usually an exercise in preaching to the choir. Fun, but not a career.

  3. If you can't say "amen" say "ouch.

  4. Genius!!!! So on point. You have got to do more like these.

  5. Great post and I agree with all 25! Especially #25! Its amazing that at just 21 my taste in music is so different than what's popular right now.

  6. You are so saucy there, Nova.
    I agree with all 25. I am trying to think of what Urban Music would be like today without these things, and it's hard to figure that out.

  7. Gonna take a while to digest this one. Excellent post.

  8. Getting beyond the fact that I obviously have issues, the list is solid. I emphatically co-sign on #11 and #22.

  9. ::clapping::
    Good stuff!

  10. Yo.....I got to say that this is exactly the type of criticism in music that I have been searching for. I'm sure, so many true music lovers echo these sentiments, I know I sure did. Its a shame that with all music, artists and the whatnot have really turned their backs on music history. And instead of embracing it and educating the masses....producers, labels, and the like (its hard to know who is really at fault)have instead chose to re-write and dumb it down. Now the music biz is like vegas with a simple bet on black reaping huge returns. One area you did miss was the new trend in soul music which is having a non-black artist sing like Aretha Franklin......sigh!!! While the black artist churn out uber synthesized, vocally devoid pop yarns.

  11. @DJStylus:
    I totally understand. I'm 21, and everyone ask me why I don't go out. Why pay over $15 to hear music I can hear on the radio every 15 mins?

  12. I agree with all 25

  13. well worth me reposting on myspace/fb whereever
    now who needs mags tho when we have real bloggers?
    and really I think DJs dont take the time to force hot music like the radio does, if I was still spinning,I'd be introing the song in the hot middle of the heat at my party (back in the day when they weren't simply living out their music video fantasies) and MAKE DEM KNOW DI TUNE! and then the subsequent weeks they'd hear the tune until it hits outside of my party and they'd know that I was the one that BUS DI TUNE.. anyway..
    where is the shit going now with 25 crucial factors sucking the life out of it?

  14. It's not back in the day anymore.
    I break records to progressive crowds all the time. I don't have to say what it is, folks will rush the booth and ask me for the titles. Hell, they'll pull out their phones and record a memo for themselves. They'll even show up a month later or email me tawnbout "Your remember that joint you played that went _________? What's that called?" I've become well known in my little sphere of influence as the guy that broke THAT song.
    But mainstream clubs?
    Well, maybe if it's eaaarly... like happy hour time.
    Or if you're a big star. In that case they're not coming to hear you rock the party, they're there for celebrity worship, but that's another gripe. You could fart into your the mic, capture it in Serato and do a transform scratch on it and the crowd will cheer.
    Otherwise, if it's peak time or immediately leading up to it? Stick to the hits or crash & burn.

  15. Excellent post Saucy N. There's really nothing left to be said. You're totally on point with 1-25.
    Glad Stylus commented on this. It's important that we heard the DJ's perspective. Also absolutely right.

  16. wow this is a well thought out, researched and sequenced post man. I agree with all of your arguments and more times than I could count I found myself shaking my head wistfully. it truly is another era in music now, where what's popular has truly become fragmented. But I'm not gonna whine about the way things were when I was a teenager because i still have access to the music I came of age with and have introduced it to a new generation. I love the opportunity to cherry-pick the music I want thanks to itunes and ipods, so even though the industry as we knew it has tanked, i'm over here oblivious to the downtrend and so grateful for an ability to filter my music that 20 years ago wasn't even imaginable.
    thanks again for an excellent summary of the past two decades or so in music man!

  17. "Although it can be argued that record companies rely on blogs for buzz, most of the music championed by popular websites is the same music that would've gotten attention anyway."
    Very true

  18. Love this post, Every one of those points is so true. #12 makes me sad cuz I used to like BET when they would play artist that were different like sy smith and cherokee ,but now they just play the same crap constantly. and #25 I know you're right about that one cuz I have a teenage neice that listens to some of the worse music I've ever heard and If I ask her why she listen's to it she doesn't know why! I swear it's like she's being brainwashed (LOL) but, like Jnez said I've had to introduce her to some of the music I listened to growing up.

  19. Eh . . . I'm getting tired of reading the invocation of the death of Tupac and Biggie. The current trends in hip hop had more to do with the increasing expenses of sampling than it had to do with their stardom. Well, in death, musicians' standing are often overstated.
    The rest of the list, good stuff.

  20. Excellent article man.... I couldn't have said it better myself. The problem today is the music industry is consumed with making a quick dollar. Simple music without much thought or originality behind it makes it easier for artists and labels to put out music quicker and easier for the mainstream music fan to digest. It's a win/win economical success, but its hurting the musical art form and making true music fans suffer in the meantime by not allowing "real" music to be heard.

  21. Although you covered a lot of ground - and all of it spot on - you omitted the worst offender: The Fake Performer.
    Gone are the days when you'd search the afternoon and late night talk shows to catch someone actually 'singing' a song. Now it's either an exact recreation of a studio track or a music video reproduction (with a reduced squadron of dancers gyrating on a tiny stage.
    Even the talented singers who are still out there are seem too afraid to ever perform live. Truth is, most of them shouldn't simply because audiences at home wouldn't be able to sing along.
    Great Post.

  22. I like what I read, showing that its not just one single thing it is the collective or combination of any of these 25 listed reason. I also know that there are far more than the 25 reasons listed.
    Keep saying the truth and hopefully we all will wake up and listen.
    AfterSixProductions "A6P

  23. Avatar

    Another bullet to the dome is the creation of the CD. Here's why:
    Back in the day, or when I was a little prince, we had ALBUMS that could only fit 7-8 songs. Seems like artists back then strove to make sure those few songs packed creative punch. And much love to cats like Issac Hayes who would release an album of 1 2 3 4 solid soul cuts!!!
    But then the CD came out it was like "what do do with the extra space" Use to be, you'd get a bonus cut not available on the CASSETTE (holla if ya hear me) or an "extended remix/club version" (sorry Diddy, u aint make that ish up!).
    NOW though, you get a CD with 2-3 good songs and 17 filler tracks. Its rare when u find a CD now in 2008 that you can enjoy ALL THE WAY THROUGH. Makes me miss the 3.50 cent singles.

  24. My sentiments exactly!
    I concur with 1,6,11,& 13, but especially 11! Gone are the days when "artists" acutally meant that you were a musician, meaning you actually studied and mastered the craft/art of music. You weren't just a fan of music, in which you used samples to produce music. No wonder noone sings live anymore. Cause they have to ask, What key is this song in again? If someone tells them, the next question will be, What does that sound like? Meanwhile, A&R is to busy playing cards to notice.

  25. preach it!!! make this a book!!!!

  26. I'm not into music like most of you but I totally agree with it all and I can understand the frustration. Allow me to stick some Saul Williams here that I feel is relevant:
    " Telegram to Hip Hop: Dear Hip Hop .(stop)
    This shit has gone too far (stop)
    Please see that mixer and turntables are returned to Kool Herc. (stop)
    The ghettos are dancing off beat. (stop)
    The master of ceremonies have forgotten that they were once slaves and have neglected the occasion of this ceremony. (stop)
    Perhaps we should not have encouraged them to use cordless microphones, for they have walked too far from the source and are emitting a lesser frequency (stop). Please inform all interested parties that cash nor murder have been added to the list of elements. (stop)
    We are discontinuing our current line of braggadocio, in light of the current trend in "realness". (stop)

    " As an alternative, we will be confiscating weed supplies and replacing them with magic mushrooms, in hopes of helping niggas see beyond their reality. (stop)

  28. I would add number#26-Black People. We don't expect more from ourselves so naturally we don't expect more from our artists.

  29. I especially cringe when I see white people singing and dancing the way Black people used to. When I think of big voices today I think Christina Aguilera, where are our new Whitneys? It is a DAMN shame

  30. This is like Martin Luther's message nailed to the door! Amen!

  31. Dope post. you are right, there are so many things involved with the death of R&B. which is the name of a book by Nelson George. check it out.

  32. Everything that could be said has been said. I just wanted to add my name to the list of your admirers, nOva. Keep it up!

  33. Man...this is the TRUTH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thank you...thank you...thank you. Rt!

  34. read my mind...

  35. I agree totally with this but I have to say this, daprinceofhiphopsoul added his comment to this that should be added right to the top of the list about the making of cd's. I remember going to Camelot music(F.Y.E now) and buying the 1.00 singles(80's and early 90's) way back in the day. I cringe at my son when he wans to buy a cd knowing he's only buying it to listen to one or two tunes($15-20). I want the old school back where a new cd is like the old tape or album all the songs are music to the ears and a good 45 min or hour of ##it ya want to hear not a bunch of garbage!!! That's y I don't buy music no more I just get tunes I like and make my own cd with ##it I want to hear and leave out the bullsh##...........

  36. I totally agree. I thought I was the only one who felt that way about Neo-Soul. I hate Neo-soul with a passion. My thing is why do I need so and so when I have Donny Hathaway and Stevie Wonder. Neo-soul artists bring NOTHING new to music. They weren't "neo-soul"--they're just people who try to mimic Soul Legends. Regarding Aaliyah, I agree with that as well. Aaliyah may have not had the greatest voice in the world but Aaliyah was a badass risk taker. She was forward thinking and she rejected the stuffy old labels and rules that seem to govern R&B. I would argue that her last album was more on the lines of Songs in the key of Life ideologically than the best Neo-Soul record. Obviously, quality wise, her last album isn't up there but that musical fearlessness is embodied in AALIYAH and Aaliyah.
    Finally, I would arguethat Urban music isn't just a problem. Music in general is an issue. Nobody wants to take risks anymore. That's why I listen to a lot of 70s Soul, a lot of classic Jazz and a lot of 70s and 90s rock.

  37. I disagree strongly with many of the things on your list, especially considering many of them have been around since the beginning of hip hop. (eg: brands...teenagers? really? teenagers killed hip hop? ...sigh)
    Hip hop isn't dead, it just lives underground. Sure rappers like Soulja Boy and Yung Joc are wack as fuck, but even in the past (maybe your teenage years, when you were apparently more immune to outside influence and only supported authentic hip hop) artists like Wrexx-N-Effect, MC Hammer etc etc etc sold millions of albums... innovative hip hop is still being created, as I'm sure you're aware. So why complain about the garbage that gets fed to teenage white girls in the suburbs?
    Stop wasting your time despairing over what you see as the death of hip hop, the only thing dead is its past. The hip hop of your youth is gone forever, and in 15 years this shit will be over with too. Its an evolution, and when you try to blame things like reality tv for killing hip hop you end up looking like a dinosaur.

  38. Great article! I'm an experienced rapper, lyricist and songwriter (there is a difference). I started in the game with Kool and the Gang in the 80's and the Fugees in the 90's. Being an older brother I decided instead persuing my own career to help develope young artists and prepare them for the music business. Teach them the ropes. Warn them about the pitfalls. After seeing so many of my people chewed up and spit out by the music industry I felt it was my duty as an educated, imformed Blackman. Know what, they wouldn't listen. Most jumped ship for the first bling bling offer that came along. Usually the offer turned out to be B.S. Some got swallowed up by the industry (remember R.O.C from So So Def, I discovered him when he was 12 years old) and were never heard from again, has-beens that never-were. A few years ago I just stopped trying to work with young people like I had done with Lauren Hill. Most of the kids I was working with had half her talent and a 100 times more ego anyway. I started writing and producing my own CD. Guess what, people like it. And they buy it. I'm still looking for venues to perform, but the internet is open like the wild west and if you create a good product, people will support you. As for the music business, I think going to continue to suffer until it finally dies out. The big boys forgot that they're greatest asset is the artists and the art, and not just the singers, but the songwriters, the producers, that special once in a lifetime sound. If everything sounds alike, nothing stands out, people get bored, they look for something new, something refreshing, something good. Not everybody can be a great artist, but the industry has become so adept at turning average talents into supertsars, everybody thinks they can. If everybody can do it, what's so special about it? Nothing! OK, every now and then I hear something special and gues what! I buy it. I bought John Legends "Save Room" or Lloyds "GET IT SHAWTY" and Beyonces "crazy in love" with Jay Z. I don't think I've bought a rap CD since DMXs "get at me dog". We are very creative talented people, but I think we're gonna have to fall in order to rise again. Holla back!
    Nuri Amir