Maybe it is YOU who has been trapped. *evil laugh*
To answer your questions about Paak, I went into Silk Sonic thinking 'if more people learn about Anderson through this, the whole project is a success'. And that has pretty much already happened, right? They won awards, sold records, and are doing a Vegas thing that is both expensive and well-loved by anyone who has seen it.
As for how we got to the point where some artists R&B and otherwise might for real be trying to 'make their music, get their little money and move on without getting famous' vs trying to be Taylor Swift/Madonna/Mariah/Maroon 5/Bruno Mars...
I argue in IRL all the time that people are far too okay with throwing away 'history'/old stuff to make room for 'the new stuff'. And companies milk that cow all the time to make money off of people. It's like almost EVERYTHING has a 'butterfly, uh uh, that's old! Let me see ya TOOTSIE ROLL!' element to it. Video games. TVs. Phones. Cars. Internet speeds. And, at least to me, black music.
It is easier to sell Jagged Edge to someone who hasn't heard all of the Isley Brothers stuff. You can throw out some Ashanti for a while and get by with a group of people who haven't heard no Chaka Kahn. Hell, you can more easily talk people into thinking a dope as hell artist like Badu was something never seen before if they don't know about Chaka.
MJ and Prince basically got thrown away. People lie about it now because they died. But really, MJ's MUSIC was getting karaoke'd by major artists all over the place but he was fading away before he died. And if you brought him up, you could barely talk about the music.
And if that Chappelle skit doesn't happen AND MJ doesn't die, I'm not sure if Prince ever has a 'get his flowers' period of his career either. Obviously, the 80s revival had mountains of Prince karaoke too.
Can you imagine making Purple Rain and then having people roll up on you like you aren't cool anymore like barely 10 years later?
What if you made fucking Thriller after having a whole ass career with your brothers, and mfers are like 'yeah, we're gonna steal all of your shit but we don't want YOU all that much anymore'? THAT IS CRAZY!
Add in that 'these folks now ain't got nuttin on the old school' was a cologne that sprayed liberally over everything for a really long time. Hell, Steve Harvey was going on and on about it AT AWARD SHOWS! He wasn't always wrong but he was heavy-handed about it and, at its worst, it is a REALLY bad thing to do if you're trying to actually 'fix the future' via making the next generation love older shit while they're being programmed to make way for new things all the time.
And at some point, that shit is going to make a group of people think 'well shit, if I can't please these people anyway, WHAT IS THE DAMN POINT!? Let me go over here and do my own thing!'. And I think that's at least part of what we see now.
Honestly, I think we're lucky to have the 'classically good' artists we still have and we barely 'deserve' them with how we basically allowed LEGENDS to be tossed aside. And hell, with the 80s and 90s folks, we complained a lot of those folks out of the way too! Whitney wasn't hood enough, Prince and MJ were 'crazy', Andre 3000 was 'weird', JayZ was too pop once he started having hits, Beyonce wasn't good enough at making 'ugly' music, etcetera.
And I think that's how we ended up with this parade of niche artists who do what they do and that's about it. They sell their merch, put out music when and however they want, and they trust their following to...ummm...follow them. And some of the apparently do okay overall. AKA they're not trying to make Thriller. They're trying to make Love For Sale. Or Loveland. Or Deeper than Rap. Or Pilot Talk. You know...something that falls into 'if you know, you know'.