I could honestly sum up this entire column by saying that black music as a whole is on life support, but I really need to explain myself a bit. Other ethnic groups have always copied African Americans, with our music especially being prone to emulation. With that I need to ask: What exactly are we giving the world to imitate? When I think about this question I worry a little. If you want to know why I am so concerned, please allow me to explain.
The first thing I want to talk about is the “urban radio”. All of the music sounds EXACTLY THE SAME. Any attempt at originality seems pushed completely out the window in favor of the current hot gimmick. The selection of rap music on these stations are so shallow that a listener could hear the same song about three or four times in a span of two hours. There is a definite lack of variety on the radio dial. That has to do mainly with corporate influence, as a very small group of people controls the majority of the stations.
The same thing is happening on television, with BET showing an increasingly shallow play list of videos daily. The network has gradually dumbed down it’s programming since being taken over by Viacom. The network has also been known to tell artists that their music is too intelligent to be played on their programming schedule, as they did with Little Brother. They have also told older artists like Redman and Method Man that their music is “no longer viable to today’s youth”. Meanwhile, they will force feed “Chain Hang Low” or “Chicken Noodle Soup” to the same youth that they claim to want to protect from bad music.
R&B is nowhere near immune to the problems that hip-hop suffers from. The lack of originality in R&B music has a lot to do with everyone wanting a hot sound. The listener ends up with a single that sounds like four other singles on the radio.The artist also runs a risk of becoming a one-hit wonder. Speaking of one-hit wonders, we as consumers have been flooded with acts that fade out less than a year after their initial release. The sad part of this is that a lot of artists actually have a great deal of talent, but for some unknown reason they can’t crack the extremely fickle marketplace.
As a whole the music industry is currently in shambles. What is an aficionado of quality music to do? The answer is amazingly simple: DON’T BUY CRAP!!! It’s as simple as pie to avoid a horrible album. No one should be subjected to horrible music, and if the consumer makes enough noise, the industry will change.