The Good New Days

Do you remember the good old days of music? Depending on your age, that era may vary. My parents nurtured my young ears with the sounds of Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder and Diana Ross. In the '80s, I walked the streets of Gary, Indiana wearing a "Beat It" jacket with Run-DMC blaring through my cassette walkman that looked more like a VCR. Being raised on Motown and Stax recordings while witnessing the birth of Hip Hop made it an amazing time to develop musical tastes. Music videos took the audible experience to another level as the soundtrack of a new generation was taking a magnificent form. These were the good old days.

By the early '90s, music upgraded from cassettes to CDs and the soul greats of the '60s and '70s laid the foundation for the golden era of Hip Hop and R&B. My first CD purchases were Boyz II Men's CooleyHighHarmony and A Tribe Called Quest's Low End Theory. The days were still good. As the decade progressed, the conscious messages and self-empowerment themes in music became harder to discover. Somewhere between "Fight the Power" and "Thong Song," mainstream music outlets became enamored with the mindless, escapism in lieu of passionate expression.

This infatuation with manufactured marketing campaigns disguised as popular music ran parallel with increased accessibility for anyone with a computer and a microphone to create music. We entered the 21st century with the internet in one hand and acceptance of mediocrity in the other. The good old days of music weren't looking so good and a lot of us found ourselves lamenting over the current state of music and whining about the good old days like we're sitting outside of a nursing home. What we sometimes fail to realize is that a new generation of incredibly talented artists have incubated their skills in the warmth of mainstream's hot mess.

Welcome to the good new days.

While mainstream maintains its perception to chase the bottom line at the expense of true artistry, independent artists are creating phenomenal music and sharing it with the masses. In the midst of an economic recession, people are spending their hard-earned dollars to attend shows, buy CDs and spread the word about musicians that may not get the MTV or VH1 airtime they deserve. We were blessed to have Otis ReddingMichael JacksonQueen LatifahPhyllis HymanPublic EnemyDigable Planets and De La Soul playing alongside our youth. But let's not forget that our children have Eric RobersonSy SmithJill ScottThe Foreign ExchangeJoy Jones and N'dambi to navigate their ears through a world that is more complicated than what it was 10-15 years ago. The difference is that we can't rely on mainstream to expose them to these artists...yet.

This is not to compare current soul and Hip Hop artist to the majestic, great ones of yesteryear. It's not about a comparison, but a continuation of what our predecessors started. It's easy to complain about how the good old days have seemed to fade. We must occasionally turn off our radios, stop tweeting and put Farmville / YoVille / Mafia Wars on pause--and use that tremendous information tool (aka the Internet) to uncover the good new days of contemporary musicians and singers. 

If you're reading this, you're on a beautiful path to good new days. It is our pleasure to shine light on the abundance of artists who serve the soundtrack of a new generation with more creativity, distribution tools and organic execution than ever before. 

Yes, a lot of music sucks nowadays and it is being shoved down our proverbial throats on a regular. Yes, it can make you crave the nostalgic genius of our beloved genres. By all means, crack open the Isaac Hayes box set or do the "Humpty Dance" when you feel the urge. Please remember that we are not in short supply of fantastic music being created and shared right now. Celebrate the good old days, but don't forget the good new days are in our midst as well.

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8 Responses

  1. this *sniff* really....hit home. thanks.

  2. My 15 y.o. niece was just telling me last night how she hates the music on the radio but has no clue where to find new music. So I can really relate to this article. Of course I sent her to soulbounce & a few other websites. I've already forced M.J., Isley Brothers, and a few others down her throat over the years lol.
    She said that most of her friends hate the radio friendly music too so hopefully this "new day" is closer than we think.

  3. I couldn't agree with you more. I honestly can't remember the last time I listened to the radio and when I did, they played the same songs like 7 or 8 times in one day. I thank God that He's given me a good ear when it comes to music because the popular stuff, in my opinion, is just...blah. I'm 28 so I can definitely remember and relate to the days when music was the ish. Lol...and let's not forget when your mother would clean the house on Saturday mornings with nothing but music blaring. I know that popular music is going to be around, but it lacks the soul and depth to penetrate deep within. When I think of good music, I think about songs that when you play them, you can close your eyes and let those melodies take you wherever you want to go while laying back and enjoying the journey. And what kills me the most, I have friends who are older than I am and they stay glued to the radio all the time asking me if I have the newest Keri Hilson or Lil Wayne. I just politely say no and remember that everyone is entitled to their own musical tastes. Still, there's nothing like some good ole soul music.
    Give me Amel Larrieux, Geno Young, Eric Roberson, Hil St. Soul, N'Dambi, Keite Young, or Kindred the Family Soul any day of the week! I'm glad that I'm not the only one who feels how I do. Thanks for the article.

  4. Great post as it's always a welcome sight to see good music brought to light. It does make me think however, that we're always going to have this conversation about the "good ol days." You know back in the 80's when all you seemed to hear was rap and synthesizers, that someone was writing an newspaper article about what was wrong with "today's music." 20 years from now, when articles are beamed directly into our brains (or whatever the tech is then), someone will write about how they miss the good ol days of the 00's. I have no idea what songs or artists they'll be talking about, however.
    Keep up the grown and sexy Fave!

  5. "Somewhere between "Fight the Power" and "Thong Song," mainstream music outlets became enamored with the mindless, escapism in lieu of passionate expression."
    This sentence speaks volumes in how I view music and why I turned off my radio a long time ago. However, I visit SB on a daily basis to see know what is going on with new R&B. SB turned me on to The Foreign Exchange, and I was quite impressed.
    With R&B pushed aside for mainstream hip-hop forced me to listen to other genres of music (house to pop standards) so I guess it's a good thing.
    Maybe I'll create a New Good Days playlist on Rhapsody 🙂

  6. A lil more soul a whole lotta less synth please!

  7. Great article. Sometimes I think we get a little bit preoccupied with the state of current mainstream music and forget all the fantastic artists that are out there doing there thing independantly. Websites such as this are there to remind us that great music is still out there, you just gotta look a bit further than the radio or MTV to find it.
    I agree with mar3nez, 'the good ol' days' convo will happen always happen. We will always look back to the music of our youth as a reference point, whether that was indeed the music of the time, or the music our parents played while we were young. I remember being 5 or 6 (so 20yrs ago) and being able to sing every word to 'Heard It Through The Grapevine' or 'Sittin On The Dock Of The Bay' but not recognising much of the music of the time.
    Mainstream media are not going to spread the word about artists that we know and love, so it's up to us, the people that are already aware of the current greats, to spread the word at every opportunity.

  8. Avatar

    as easy as it is to lament or be straight up pissed off about the state of mainstream music, thank GOD for all the indie artists you mentioned that are our saving grace! Very well written =)


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