Sunday, August 24, 2008

Do black men sing anymore?

I came across this song on my iTunes the other day and was struck by how many recognizable, moderately famous male R&B singers there were almost 15 years ago.

Keith Sweat (pictured at right). Brian McKnight. Tevin Campbell. El Debarge. Not to mention the songwriter, a mostly unknown guy named D'Angelo.

Among them, there weren't lots of TRL, 106 & Park-type stars. Just a few dudes who could carry a tune, sold some records to pay the bills and rolled through the Video Soul studio to break bread with Donnie Simpson from time to time.

Other than Anthony Hamilton, John Legend and Raheem DeVaughn, I'm not sure I've bought the album of a contemporary R&B singer in the past couple of years.

What happened to black men who can really sing? Do they all rap now?
UPDATE: The more I think about it, I wonder if the music industry and the changing way in which people consume music has squeezed out artists like Christopher Williams, Al B. Sure and Aaron Hall. Cats who can just sing really don't make it big anymore. You've got to be a well-rounded entertainer, I think, to make much of a dent on Soundscan these days.
UPDATE 2: On a not-so-unrelated note, I've become obsessed with reggae and dancehall music in the past couple of weeks. Maybe it's because of the Caribbean influence here in Tampa.But I've been bumping Beenie Man and Sizzla hard recently. Much res-pek.

No comments: