Is R&B music slowly dying an unfortunate death? According to the Billboard Charts and the songs played on your popular radio stations, it would appear so. Gone are the days, when R&B artists could sell extremely well by making albums completely dedicated to their genre. They have been replaced by Dance/Pop artists, with some in the genre “jumping ship” in order to stay relevant in music today. The artists that remain true to themselves lack the record sales to fully catapult into international stardom. One theory is that times have changed, and with the economy in trouble, people want to hear upbeat, positive music that will make them forget their troubles. Another theory is that, the younger generation of today did not grow up on “true” Rhythm and Blues, as did previous generations; lyrics and melodies of the past instead replaced with beats and hooks of today. It seems as if the only new Rhythm and Blues artists that are enjoying success in the U.S. come from over the pond. U.K. artists such as the late Amy Winehouse, and most recently Adele, are ruling the charts by sticking to making the music they love to create.
However, there is hope for this genre in the musical landscape of today. While many of this artists are switching their style of music or complacent where they are, there are some artists that are looking to take R&B back into the mainstream. With their dark and unique interpretations on personal subjects, bold lyrics and catchy hooks, one could say that R&B isn’t dying but evolving. Previously underground artists, such as Frank Ocean and The Weeknd, are being deemed the “Future of R&B” and for good reason. Listen to the clever story Frank Ocean tells on his song “Novacane” or the intriguing eeriness one feels when listening to a song crafted by the Weeknd and one is bound to be excited by the “newness” of it. Their music is a refreshing escape from standard R&B music and “dumbed down’ Pop music. It’s likely that these artists will not be your typical one-hit wonder and will have the lasting power that they deserve. While these singers are still on the rise, they have worked with highly respected artists, i.e. Kanye West, Jay-Z, Drake . The validation of these music veterans speaks volumes on the talent that these acts possess, revolutionizing a genre that many people thought was slowly dying out. One can only wonder what the future holds for these promising R&B artists.
The appealing thing about these artists is the fact that they generally shun the spotlight, unlike most of their contemporaries. Preferring their music to speak for them, majority of the general public wouldnt even recognize them on the street. Neither Frank Ocean or The Weeknd have done many interviews or performances, instead spending their time creating in the studio. This type of mystique only adds to their “buzz” as long as they continue to meet or exceed people’s expectations. The future will tell if they can accomplish this in a time where the public’s taste in music is extremely fickle. In the past, many much-hyped artists have come and gone, while others have gone on to have long-lasting careers. Hopefully they will experience the fate of the latter and while their future looks promising only time will tell.