I will be honest, like I always am, I’m not a R&B (and Hip-Hop) music fan. This is not really because of the style of music but is more because of the commerciality in this part of the music industry the last few decades. I see to many musicians or bands just doing what the mass wants to hear. They are controlled into the small details by their managers who must maintain the deal with the signed record label. The musicians must do what has been told and are not allowed to do their own creative thing anymore. And this takes away the originality of the musician or band and makes the R&B too clean, not original and monotone. I understand that as a starting musician you are struggling and working your ass of to make some bugs and when the spotlight finally falls on you from a record label company, you eager to sign without thinking too much about the long term consequences. Unfortunately this is of course inherent in the most part of the music industry. But it looks like the mass, especially the youth, is still crazy for the R&B (and Hip-Hop) music, because they just like that type of music and don’t look beyond that. Which is of course fine, because music is just entertainment, but it feels and sounds differently if you look at it from another perspective.
One of the few musicians that is completely unique in the R&B is Alicia Keys. She has another level of musicianship. So many people in the R&B were just singing on top of loops and tracks, but she has the ability, not only to be a part of hip-hop, but also go way beyond that. She is a very accomplished musician, songwriter, actress and philanthropist. I suppose the “Keys” of her success laid in the area she was born and raised, and her education in classical piano and dedication to classical music and the support and endurance of her mother.
And Keys was one of these special persons who broke her contract with her first record label (Columbia records) because they attempted to change her material, they wanted her to sing and have other create the music, forcing big-name producers on her who demanded she also write with people whom she was not comfortable. The breaking of this contract brought her on the right track and that is her own track where she should be, doing her own thing, create beautiful and unique R&B songs.
The R&B needs more musicians like Keys, she is a good example for young musicians of how to believe and follow your own style and creativity. Hopefully more of them will follow her footsteps and some things will change in the R&B world in the benefit of the musicians and the whole aura around it.
There are many beautiful music movies on the YouTube to chose from, but one of my favorites is the one with John Mayer at Time square 2016.
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