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Forum nameThe Lesson
Topic subjectIs it me, or is up tempo R&B rare these days?
Topic URLhttp://board.okayplayer.com/okp.php?az=show_topic&forum=5&topic_id=3029161
3029161, Is it me, or is up tempo R&B rare these days?
Posted by Buddy_Gilapagos, Mon Dec-21-20 11:35 AM
As a person raised on New Jack Swing, the music I miss the most is up tempo "fast" R&B songs. R&B songs you can dance to. This weekend I was playing a lot of tracks like this:

Frank Ocean - Songs for Women

Lucky Daye - Late Night

and my favorite party starter

John Legend - Green Light (Official Video) ft. André 3000

It seems like Usher and The Weeknd are the only cats who consistently drop up tempo tracks but it seems like you don't hear a lot of it on the radio these days.

Now there are plenty of Hip-hop songs with singers and R&B vibes and Pop songs by black and white artist like Doja Cat but I guess I am not counting that as R&B (I may be splitting hairs). For example, is Get Lucky by Daft Punk an R&B song? Which reminds me there are a few retro white boy acts like Tuxedo and Mayer Hawthorne who do uptempo R&Bish songs, but am I missing something or am I right that there isn't a lot of uptempo R&B being churned out these days?

"Everyone has a plan until you punch them in the face. Then they don't have a plan anymore." (c) Mike Tyson

"what's a leader if he isn't reluctant"
3029186, Is it me, or is R&B rare these days?
Posted by Ray_Snill, Tue Dec-22-20 08:57 AM

3029187, Its funny because I think that's the right question.
Posted by Buddy_Gilapagos, Tue Dec-22-20 09:05 AM
I saw all this controversy because Justin Beiber wanted to be in the R&B category and people were mad Doja Cat wasn't included in the R&B category and I guess my real issue is traditional R&B isn't really a thing anymore the way it use to be.

"Everyone has a plan until you punch them in the face. Then they don't have a plan anymore." (c) Mike Tyson

"what's a leader if he isn't reluctant"
3029189, I think this is it....
Posted by CherNic, Tue Dec-22-20 09:15 AM
Like actual Rhythm & Blues? It's not the most popular sound of the genre - if it makes sense to be a sub genre of it's own self titled genre lmao.

I can't stand the current R&B market. Even the decently talented I can't give my energy to. Like I'm sure HER is probably great, but I just....I give none of these folks country. There are some SANGERS but I never loved their voices in large quantity....Jazmine Sullivan, Ledisi

Also it's interesting how we give country in certain genres to age but once you're past like 30/35 in R&B you're fast tracked to 'adult contemporary' or some shit
3029199, It's you.
Posted by Hitokiri, Tue Dec-22-20 03:35 PM
There is a ton of great r&b right now.
3029288, R&B is better than ever...
Posted by organix, Tue Dec-29-20 09:57 AM
and by far my most listened genre in 2020. so many great albums and new sounds out there. very inspiring stuff to follow and this coming from an electronic head.

check out my top 10 list of 2020: https://www.jessewarren.xyz/best-rhythm-and-blues-music-of-2020/

3029836, I have skimmed and my first reaction is, nice but is there anything I can
Posted by Buddy_Gilapagos, Fri Jan-22-21 01:17 PM
dance too?

My R&B aesthetic is funk, New Jack Swing and Hip-Hop based. I was a
Neo-Soul fan but to the extent it was funky (hence my overall favorite R&B artist are D'Angelo and Badu).

Neo-Soul looses me when its too soft. A lot of what I heard from your list are Neo-Soul-ish in a Solange type of flavor. I dig it and will listen to while I work, but what I am missing is funky uptempo music you can dance too that isn't hip-hop based.

My R&B favorites these days are Usher and Chris Brown because they still put out Bops. But they are also from another Era.

Thanks for the list though. Will give a more thorough listening.

"Everyone has a plan until you punch them in the face. Then they don't have a plan anymore." (c) Mike Tyson

"what's a leader if he isn't reluctant"
3029839, BTW, Sault did have some funkier dancable tracks on their earilier Albums
Posted by Buddy_Gilapagos, Fri Jan-22-21 01:26 PM
I don't think so much with these last two albums.

Leon Bridges does have something more like I am talking about.


"Everyone has a plan until you punch them in the face. Then they don't have a plan anymore." (c) Mike Tyson

"what's a leader if he isn't reluctant"
3029843, You might wanna revisit Rise.
Posted by Hitokiri, Fri Jan-22-21 02:24 PM
That one is almost all uptempo. Just like 3 slower tracks.
I mean... "I Just Wanna Dance" is on that one.
3029872, I guess you are right. Mostly uptempo
Posted by Buddy_Gilapagos, Mon Jan-25-21 01:25 PM
I do have a hard time considering most of the tracks on the record as R&B though.

Like "Son Shine" is definitely an R&B BOP, but I felt a lot of the album was like Afro-Drumming type of music. And I know I might be too narrowly defining R&B to my preferences.

Relatedly, I have been listening to a lot of Afro-Beat-inspired jams lately because they still do a lot of uptempo dancable stuff.

Like this:


"Everyone has a plan until you punch them in the face. Then they don't have a plan anymore." (c) Mike Tyson

"what's a leader if he isn't reluctant"
3029673, Seems blurred by Pop.
Posted by 3CardMolly, Sat Jan-09-21 05:32 AM
Moreso diluted, so you never have a distinct r&b sound nor actual growth because that crossover is much more desired by the producers and singers. For example Usher's OMG, great song and to some degree r&b based on the artist makeup but it's still very much a pop song. Also the energy put by record companies for pop artist is ridiculous, I dont know one Jason Derulo song but his a solid pop artist to the point his name spelling was auto-corrected by my phone. This phone (1yr) barely accepts the correct spelling of my name.
3029190, NJS is one of my favorite eras in music
Posted by CherNic, Tue Dec-22-20 09:17 AM
There's a podcast called Jacked: Rise of The New Jack Swing Sound and from what I see of the show subject/titles it's legit. Like Teddy is the focus of course, but they also got an interview with Kyle West. Not sure how many eps are left but there's 7 out so far
3029191, Couple reasons for that.
Posted by Teknontheou, Tue Dec-22-20 10:10 AM
Live performance and getting people out onto the dancefloor is not a priority for R&B and hasn't been for probably 15 - 20 years. And that's because...

Most youngish R&B artists seem to be writing songs in solitude: in their bedrooms or home alone. I know from my own attempts at writing music on guitar alone, there's a tendency to play quietly so other people in the house or next door won't hear you. That has carried over into the music.

There aren't any more organic R&B bands, outside of something that's regional, like Go-Go.

There don't seem to be many venues left to hear live R&B anymore. Even in New York, I think SOBs was the only place that had a regular R&B showcase. In the past, any town with a decent black population (even alot of small towns) had multiple places you could play your music in front of people, and where people expected to be able to dance. That's less true now.

In order for music to be uptempo and highly dancebale you need bands that write and play together with the intention of being heard in venues. The music needs to be louder, forcing the vocalists to sing from their chests to be heard (even with mics). Many of the vocalists now whisper sing, or sing from their throats. That goes back to what I said about writing songs quietly by yourself.
3029203, Real interesting points
Posted by obsidianchrysalis, Tue Dec-22-20 08:38 PM
Never considered the 'culture' of songwriting having an effect on the songs themselves.

The other points were quality too.
3029212, This is interesting. Thanks.
Posted by Hitokiri, Wed Dec-23-20 03:54 PM
I think there's also something to be said about the idea of individuality (culturally and imposed), familiarity (young black artists didn't necessarily grow up on bands), production technology (learning an instrument vs learning to make beats), and record labels acting like that don't know how to promote a band... and perhaps even the expense of signing/promoting a band vs an individual.

That all being said, I think we should stay away from language like they're aren't ANY r&b bands. And I would love a post we're folks just list the current r&b bands.

-The Internet
-Phony Ppl
-Hiatus Kaiyote (they count?)
-Astralblak (fka Zuluzuluu) (local, perhaps more funk than r&b but genres are hard for me)
-Free Nationals
-Durand Jones and the Indications
-The Suffers
-Holy Hive (i don't know if their material is as r&b, but they were Kirby's band on her Sis. ep, one of the best r&b releases this year)
-Thee Sacred Souls
-The Sinseers

Who else?
3029219, The bands you listed are talented, though I haven't heard them all.
Posted by Teknontheou, Wed Dec-23-20 08:21 PM
But one of my issues with R&B of the last 10 - 15 years is that it's largely become the music of people who are left of center. Alot of the bands on that list I'm familiar with are 'Playery.

That might sound like an odd criticism to make on OKP itself, but I think R&B has become too imbalanced. Prior to maybe 15 years ago, R&B was the music of Black people of all types and classes. The biggest R&B names of the 70s, 80s and 90s were largely, though not completely, composed of "regular" people who made music for other regular people. Off the top of my head the only newish/youngish "regular person" I can think of is Summer Walker and maybe Ari Lennox. There used to be too many to count.

When regular, ordinary black people exited R&B the music lost alot. It lost the church influence (very little of the most mainstream R&B today has an ounce of church). It lost alot of that danceability we're talking about. It lost the pulse of the youth.

But that goes to another point I'be noticed - young, everyday black men seem to have almost no interest in the genre at all. They seem 100% all in on Hip-Hop, and that's a huge part of the problem too. You can't have any genre of music be healthy if young, talented regular men don't want anything to do with it. When most of us here were coming up most of the big name R&B men were regular guys: Babyface, all the NJS guys, Jodeci, Boyz-II-Men, R. Kelly (ignore everything else with him), Levert, etc. All those kinds of guys now who are young pour themselves into Hip-Hop now.
3029674, RE: The bands you listed are talented, though I haven't heard them all.
Posted by 3CardMolly, Sat Jan-09-21 05:42 AM
Yet those same regular young black men still enjoy slow songs and sing songs. It ain't all hip hop, but perhaps theres been a bridge between the two for regular black men that has yet to be defined.
3029213, interesting take.
Posted by LeroyBumpkin, Wed Dec-23-20 03:59 PM
>Live performance and getting people out onto the dancefloor
>is not a priority for R&B and hasn't been for probably 15 - 20
>years. And that's because...
>Most youngish R&B artists seem to be writing songs in
>solitude: in their bedrooms or home alone. I know from my own
>attempts at writing music on guitar alone, there's a tendency
>to play quietly so other people in the house or next door
>won't hear you. That has carried over into the music.
3029379, To Me R&B Is Mostly "Rhythm & Trap" Now
Posted by Dj Joey Joe, Thu Dec-31-20 12:41 PM
All I hear on r&b & urban adult contemporary radio stations is trap music, rhythm & trap, & old school (90's to early 00's) hit r&b songs, not much new uptempo r&b songs, neo-soul is basically gone from the airwaves unless that artist has already had a few hits (like Musiq Soulchild, Alicia Keys, Jill Scott, Anthony Hamilton, & Kem), now (in my area of the US) it's unheard of "southern-soul" artists that gets that spotlight over the neo-soul artists and I never cared for that soul mixed with southern blues sound (example: Johnnie Taylor, Dorothy Moore, Latimore, Tyrone Davis, Betty Wright, etc.) but ever since a slew of new artists have been making these silly type "southern soul" songs and creating a million "electric slide" type songs, the older listeners have been eating it up for the past 15 to 20 years.

Anyway, as far as uptempo r&b music goes, I do like it when a new artist makes it onto the radio with a semi-house/house music tune like Phony Ppl with their song "Fkn Around", seems like the pop/top-40 artists are doing more uptempo/edm type songs than r&b artists are; but I will note that when it comes to the slower r&b stuff, it's so slow that it's basically half the tempo as house tunes (110 bpm to 125 bpm) and bootleg house remixes come out weekly of today's slow r&b tunes.

3029572, every once in a blue moon
Posted by Original Juice, Thu Jan-07-21 04:57 AM
you get a "Just Fine" by Mary J


Usher "You Don't Have to Call"


Omarion "Entourage"


Chris Brown "Fine China"

Basically, when R&B stars in the last decade felt the need to do
a Michael Jackson-esque radio/club hit and get
a Neptunes/2-Step Garage/NJS-like beat

But the kiddos (for the most part) don't really dance like that
anymore. It's a whole 'nother rhythm and vibe they're giggin to these days.
3029875, Great points in here. Also, artists don't really make albums any
Posted by soulfunk, Mon Jan-25-21 01:51 PM
more. At least not from the standpoint of putting together an album that is sequenced for the purpose of listening to if from beginning to end. If you were picking out songs for a full album with that intent, you would be much more mindful of having a good mix of tempos and vibes so there is a flow to the album.

But if you're just making a bunch of individual songs and then putting them together randomly without thought to the mastering process and how the album will sound front to back, then you won't be as mindful of things like "we need a couple more uptempo joints on this album"...