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R&B isn’t dead, it grew up and is dating other genres

Photo: Courtesy of the artist

R&B is in a healthy, swinging relationship with Hip-Hop.

 

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ccording to the powers that be and in every conversation I’ve had about this “dying” genre, R&B (as we knew it 20-30 years ago) is on life support with little hope of pulling through. Reporters and tastemakers alike tend to blame one another for not keeping the art form alive, or if the responsible types aren’t among us, we’ll just blame the artists and the record labels for “dumbing it down” but what is R&B?

Well, if you look at online dictionaries, it is described as “a genre of popular African-American music that originated in the 1940s” with stylistic origins of Negro Spirituals, Blues, Gospel, Boogie Woogie, and Jazz music. In short, to me, it sounds like it was a form of expression created by African slaves as a source of storytelling, community, therapy, and entertainment: Stories, in the shape of music that was passed down, about the struggle. A way to connect with our ancestors, an oral history popularized by the great-grandchildren of innocent people swept from their homes during the human chattel slavery (18th and 19th centuries) era who were ostracized, struggled, were beaten and raped in a new land.

Based on the facts, that concept, and history, one cannot beg but to wonder: Is R&B left to interpretation today? Perhaps, but during my childhood, its storylines were about lovemaking, being in love and heartbreak. How has it changed? It grew up and is swinging with other genres, newly classifying it as “Urban Contemporary.”


R&B singer K-Major
Photo: Courtesy of the artist

Which brings me to with a new artist named K-Major (and other artists like him). Born in Cartersville, Georgia and based in Los Angeles, the 24-year-old triple threat (singer, producer, and songwriter) has a project out called, “Category V” that travels through the many forms of the music style. Leading with “Shine,” the uptempo, bass heavy record about shining on someone when you’re in the position to do so, he shows that he can tell a detailed story about a relationship with a materialistic woman, and still make you dance. The follow-up track “Story Untold” is a slower track about all of the girls that broke his heart.

The title track is a favourite because when he sings about that category five love, he sounds like he invented sex. Talking dirty, roleplaying, and wearing high heels to bed aren’t new ideas. Neither is the attraction to natural beauty, so R&B seems to be thriving in a new era. It still encompasses the language of love and adores women, even if it drops the F-bomb from time to time. Stream the diverse 18-track offering below, released by one of the most sought after songwriters in the industry.


GrungeCake

Written by Richardine Bartee

Her unprejudiced love for people, the arts, and business have taken her this far. Join Richardine on her journey as she writes history into existence, one article at a time. Richardine is a member of the Recording Academy/GRAMMYs, and a GRAMMY U Mentor. She is part of the Complex Day Ones, an exclusive community to help make the Complex experiences even better.