Bobby Valentino is Right

bobby-valentino.jpgThis item was simply too hot to be relegated to Morning Soul. Bobby Valentino thinks R&B is dead. Not as in completely gone, since we have evidence of artists like Mary J. Blige, Jazmine Sullivan, Jill Scott and a few others that point to the contrary. But on a larger scale, yes. Listeners are tuning out and more popular Black artists whose careers were built with an R&B foundation are employing Pop and Hip Hop sounds to defer to the white mainstream or youth demographic. Guess you gotta "make that paper", but letting society and commerce determine your sound instead of moving culture yourself doesn't make you an artist.
This is the basic ebb and flow of music. Enough people have to sell-out in order for someone to bring it back and return it to its glory on a massive scale. That person probably won't be Bobby V, but we respect his sentiments.


14 Responses

  1. This is coming from the man who says, "Wee Ooh Wee Ooh Wee...

  2. "...but letting society and commerce determine your sound instead of moving culture yourself doesn't make you an artist."
    Can you rent a billboard and put this statement on it?

  3. lol ... i agree, can't see Bobby V becomming the saviour of RnB anytime soon!
    I dunno if i agree that RnB is 'dead', i just think that the music game is just so far removed from what it was even just a couple of years ago, that people assume that's the case. A huge divide has developed in the music world ... there are those that stick rigidly to the commercial bandwagon and those that ignore it in favour of indie/underground artists (and the few commercial artists who deserve the respect). Those who suffer commercial radio/MTV probably dont care/realise that what they're listening too isn't RnB (or whatever genre we choose) so leave them to it. People in the know delve a little deeper.
    RnB is very much alive in the sense that quality music is still being performed and produced, it's just that now instead of switching on the radio, or checking the charts you have to be a little more adventurous in order to find it. Visiting this site each and every day (and a few select others) is how i find it, i'm sure others have their own methods.
    It's sites such as this that ensure real music will never die. I quite enjoy being in the minority when it comes to what i'm listening too, and it gives me an excuse to direct people here when they ask 'Who is that...?'

  4. "Enough people have to sell-out in order for someone to bring it back and return it to its glory on a massive scale."
    Profound statement, nOva. You betta preach! That's specifically how I remember Erykah Badu's rise to prominence in 1997. Admist the East vs. West coast beef, big budget music videos, logo-driven paraphernalia, Erykah Badu was an oasis; not only in her sound but her image. She was so divergent from what was going on at that time (yet so eerily reminiscent of a bygone era) that people immediately gravitated towards whatever she offered. Hence, the musical dynamic shifted into "neo-soul" phase.
    I feel where Bobby is comin' from, but like you stated, ultimately he's not the person to bring about any significant change. Particularly with that "Beep Beep" song, he's offering the same thing he's supposedly against.

  5. "It's sites such as this that ensure real music will never die. I quite enjoy being in the minority when it comes to what i'm listening too, and it gives me an excuse to direct people here when they ask 'Who is that...?"
    Amen, Soul UK. That's exactly how I feel.

  6. So the R&Bers are stealing from the Hip Hop and Popsters and the Popsters are stealing from the R&Bers and Hip Hoppers and the Hip Hoppers... etc. etc. Everyone's trying to make a living so they can keep doing the job and find an audience and stay around long enough to achieve the happy accident of ART.

  7. You know rnb's dead when the list of nominees for any award for best rnb artist include Rihanna,Chris Brown & most things produced by Timbaland of late. Hiphop & Electronica rule,singing is dead..atleast amongst the masses. Robot voices are in,soul-less music's cool cause them foo's can dance the night away and get hammered good. If it wasnt for this site,I'd be an even more frustrated man. Bobby's right though he aint practicin what he preachin.

  8. Avatar

    Like everyone's said in their own way, I dig the message, but the messenger? eh, not so much. Maybe if he was singing grownup versions of songs like Blackberry Molasses (and he surely didn't write even that), I could see but he's clearly not. Step up your own game too homie.

  9. ALSO-in response to thing's just being a natural 'ebb and flow' of music until things return to their 'former glory'....
    My point: Just because things die (i.e. R&B or Hip-Hop for that matter) does not garuntee (sp) that they WILL return to their former "glory". If that's the theory, Doo-Wop is about 30 years behind schedule.
    Sad as it seems, it is POSSIBLE that R&B Singers will never return to their former "glory" as it were back in the days. Stranger things have happened.

  10. allow me to ramble for a minute.
    you know, this mass shift towards pop, European & electronic sounds in R&B would be almost justifiable if the mess WORKED more often. so often from a creative standpoint, it does little to make the music more palatable to the masses, to say nothing of record sales. i don't know that we've seen enough evidence that these current trends are worth the tremendous sacrifices the artists are making. right now, most of the artists in question are being dictated to--they are either too dumb and/or powerless to even stick with what works. i'm not going to name any names, but some of ya'll feel me, i know. there's been so many people who seem to want to "progress" at a pace (or talent level) that exceeds what they can handle. they end up making a wack project, and then get mad when the majority of people aren't feeling them. the next level is not always a step up, as we have seen.
    these labels and yes, some of these singers and musicians are selling both us and themselves short by continually relying on trends and so-called hot producers/songwriters. the people in question (including a lot of people who claim to be fans of R&B) have collectively whittled the game down to almost nothing. i'ma go ahead and ask if people really think the majority of this pop-oriented stuff is going to stand the test of time? i hate to say it, but i have items in my pantry that will likely outlast some of these "artists." seriously, some of these records should have a damn expiration date stamped right next to the little FBI warning sticker. to be fair, some of the lighter material is great and will last. it is not necessarily wrong to gravitate towards it, or even to love it. some of it is well-written and well-executed. however, the majority of it is not. it not only sounds that way, but FEELS that way. isn't that a huge part what we look for when we listen to soul music--a feeling? a lot of what is popular right now just doesn't feel like it was created as a labor of love. it feels more like a commodity to be traded simply for someone's financial gain; a transaction. it feels empty and fake. it doesn't help when you are constantly hearing about how so & so charges for a beat, for publishing, or a guest appearance.
    i have to question why so many artists are making the shift away from the soul of R&B. have younger and white audiences not always responded to and loved black music, no matter how "black" it was? some of the most urban material is often what appeals the most to audiences outside the black community. so why all of a sudden this mass exodus to the pop world? there have always been pop elements in r&b and soul music, but it seems like generally those moves were made more as a creative decision than a business one. look at where we're at right now--record sales are worse than they have ever been, across the board. it's not a question of content, and the concept of a "genre" has never been more meaningless than it is today. the seismic shift seems to stem from ideas that have obviously not been fully fleshed out, but simply sound good in theory ("if we cater to a young, white market, we'll blow up . . .") well, Billboard magazine begs to differ. i don't have any hard stats, but this seems to only be working for the few people in R&B who had a strong pop base to begin with. for those who are more rooted in soul and R&B--yeah, they might gain more of the white audience, but they lose us in the process.
    there's so many reasons why the world of R&B music has been turned topsy-turvy. i think the number one reason is these major labels, who have all but eliminated the concept of artists & repertoire, and don't have the time, money or patience to really let artists grow and develop on their own terms (or even under the tutelage of someone who actually knows what they're doing). an artist has to have it together and bring significantly more to the table now than they did 10, 15 years ago. they are often expected to be so much more than just a singer. they now have to be beautiful/handsome a business, a brand, to such an extent that the actual music is at the bottom of the totem pole. unfair as it is, some artists don't get a second chance if their album doesn't reach a certain mark. they may not even get a full first chance. i can name so many older artists and musicians who never ever would have blown up had they embarked on their careers in this day and age . . . artists who had five and six albums (on major labels) before they had a breakthrough. that is completely impossible today. all these majors are so consolidated and tightly wound financially that there's little to no room for error. i don't even want to talk about radio, video and other elements of the music industry. my head hurts as it is.
    i can't fully fault these artists who want to step out and claim that R&B is dying. i'll take Bobby Valentino over a LOT of the crap that's getting burn right now. he has every right to speak out. i mean, i couldn't begin to intelligently explain the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, but that doesn't mean i shouldn't say that it's foul. if an artist can't speak out about this, then who would be more qualified? i'd rather hear from someone who has lived these struggles first-hand.
    ultimately it is us who drive what goes on in the marketplace. i mean, most of us don't give enough support to the people who ARE keeping it authentic. we don't demand enough quality and meaningful music, and more integrity & responsibility from these artists. it's on us, but we can only take it so far. i can't tell an artist what music to create, but we gotta realize our role (and our power) as a collective audience. R&B (or any other genre) doesn't need someone to come down from on high and save it. i think that any impending renaissance is going to start from the base, the foundation. that is us as fans and (dare i say) buyers of this music.

  11. Great topic. I don't think real R&B is dead. It is just that it is not being played on the radio. As this sight has shown us, there is good music out there. I was actually talking with a friend yesterday as we rode in her car playing Boyz II Men's "II" album. We debated whether if that album was released today, whether it would have the same commercial success that it did. We both agreed that it would not. I don't know why. Has there been a shift in taste or what is considered popular?

  12. Avatar

    Wow @ dar, that made me want to take back my comment and really think about my position on this topic. Though I do feel Bobby V should step his game up a bit to make the claim he made, I don't believe R&B is dead. Now a lot of mainstream music period is dead to me, and I'm sure it is to a lot of us, and seemingly everything about the consumer marketplace has changed drastically not just music. But I know there is a caliber of artists out there who will make sure true music, which gives you that 'feeling' will never die. Finding this website alone gives one a lot of hope lol. And you're right, it's very much up to us to realize the power we have as consumers to shift the market, but the game is so different now that the solution seems to go beyond the simple economics of supply and demand. I wonder is it still that simple? There's a whole new generation out there that really loves this mainstream bullshyt, and those of us who crave real music are outnumbered by not only such consumers but a corrupt music industry as well. I sincerely ask, beyond buying the albums, supporting concerts, music journalism, what else are we to do? Are we not thinking outside the box enough for this shift? But I digress, dar I very much respected your comments.

  13. @ miss concrete jungle:
    i'm pretty sure it's not as easy as i may have made it sound, but we still have to try. Soul Bounce is clearly doing their part. other media outlets are helping. i think we first have to understand that it is possible to have an impact on what we ultimately see and hear. i don't know that there will ever be a "renaissance" or anything close to it. i'd personally love it if what we consider "real R&B/soul/etc." came back to the forefront. as nOvamatic suggested, it's bound to happen, but sometimes i see how things are going and i don't believe the tables are turning. in order to have forward movement, there must first be forward thought.
    i'm not sure what more we can do. perhaps as Jay-Z says, we need more people. we need more like-minded individuals to come forward and act--to speak up and demand. i think it is happening. SB's growing readership (as well as other signs) are proof. the dialogue is there--we just need to keep it going. and growing. i think that's the best thing we can do right now.

  14. watz gud boo dis is ur girl mimi chillin in skool writen a comment 2 u holla at u lata love u always


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