Monday, August 9, 2010

\\\musiks - on neo-r&b, vulnerability, and ME

the only song my parents ever played for me\\\ the only song they ever wanted to make sure i knew was not only a hindi song but a devotional hindu song, Jai Jagdish Hare, which everyone i've ever met just called the "arti". while there was tons of bollywood music around me, there certainly wasn't no beatles playing at home. there was no rolling stones in my house. NUNNUHDAT. everything western i heard was played on the radio and on mtv in the 1990s.

i've always been a fan of r&b. i like to mention how the first cassette tape i ever bought was nas - it was written. the street team at columbia or wherever he was signed to back then did a great job in my neighborhood in queens (though nowhere near queensbridge). stickers up in every park i went to. what i don't mention is how the next couple of cassettes included a lot of r&b. while there was biggie, wu, and the lost boyz there was also boys 2 men, blackstreet, 112 and, uh, mariah carey. (it was the joint with fantasy on it). though i could have done with hearing a lot less all-for-one in my house, my older sister's taste in music did rub off on me and i'm not mad at it. nah actually this all-for-one joint was aight:

more than any other r&b group of the 90s, i was a 112 fan. k-ci and jojo did their thing but i never appreciated them like 112. real talk, my screen name included a 112 at the end of it. the second i heard this joint it was over... (what "it" is and why "it" ended, i can't tell you).

features from mase and biggie never hurt. "only you" and its remix were on 112's self-titled debut record which came out on bad boy records in 1996. "112" was mad underrated. also on that record was "come see me" f/ mr. cheeks of the lost boys, the hit "cupid", and personal favorites "throw it all away" and "just a little while".

a year later inoj, also known as "not the chick from ghost town dj's but the other so so def chick", would drop one of the two hits (WHICH WERE BOTH COVERS OF OTHER SONGS???) she would be (forgotten forever) known for. with this cover of ready for the world's "let me love you down", once again an r&b song made me be like WHAAAAAAAAAAAT?

while this version, which i also recently discovered, of love you down is forever my favorite:

i FUCKS with how to dress well's version and his upcoming album on lefse records:

while i dabbled with r&b more after the 1990s it was only when r. kelly would have cam'ron on thoia thoing or something like that. i never got excited about r&b again. i'm not 100% sure r&b got worse but i definitely was not fucking with it anymore. i think in part my increasing appreciation of rock music at the turn of the millennium cancelled out any need to listen to r&b. i listen to music to feel ILL and to feel WACK. i will always have rap to feel ILL to. that's what rap is here for. i will never listen to rap to feel feelings. i will never like LL COOL J. even hey lover. fuck "hey lover". 112 was actually great to feel WACK to but then i heard radiohead and sunny day real estate and the pixies and the smiths and i was like, "i don't really think you feel THAT wack slim, q, mike, and deron".

(also, i'm pretty sure i didn't know guitars existed until i was 16. this was also the age i discovered "white friends". i'm sure these are related although not a single one of my white friends when i was 16 REALLY fucked with guitars. they were bigger on big L and biggie.)

around the time rap became less and less self-deprecating, so did r&b. no one's hearts were on their sleeves. no one was putting themselves out there. r&b was pretty much for 15 year old girls only. i was not finna listen to b2k. NOOOOOOO. chris brown was not making records for me. FUCKOUTTAHERE. then very recently, with the-dream and initially that song "mr. yeah", i started hearing the vulnerability i heard in those same rock records in r&b again. i started appreciating r&b as identity art. and in this case a person's identity was not to be praised for its intelligence as a measure of how much information one had - in a day and age where intelligence is tied to how quickly you can use your smart phone - but rather honesty, vulnerability, and things that aren't actually real like "swag". "swag" as magical realism. take "take care of me" for example. not only is the song called "TAKE CARE OF ME" but he literally sings about wearing his heart on his shirt. this song and the general appreciation of vulnerability in art feels like why seth rogen is popular. this song, specifically, feels like the scene in knocked up where dude's like "dont fuck ME over. i'm the one that gets fucked over." to katherine hegel's character. though unlike a fat white dude stoner comedy actor, the-dream's vulnerability plays off of a narcissism only furthering his vulnerability and furthering how ILLLLLL he is.

and at this same time where one has endless access to information with the internet, we see the breakdown of genre-fication. i mean, I WAS NOT THE FIRST DUDE TO LIKE BOTH RADIOHEAD AND NAS. everyone is in a band and everyone listens to everything. everyone loves j-dilla. (though most of yallll didnt fuck with him before donuts and yall are wackkkkk for that). drum machines are everywhere. every band in brooklyn and every apartment uptown has a drum machine in it. (though dipset birdganger araab muzik is still better than most of yalll on that jawn/// don't forget thatttt). everything is called dubstep. and out of this newfound a.d.d. 2010 internet shit age appreciation of r&b, vulnerability, "swag", BROWN PEOPLE ON TV AND IN MOVIES, all XL records does is win win win, corporate/pop art graphic design is cool, J-Dilla is my homeboy, and london south asian people had a head start comes... JAI PAUL. his myspace page includes references to j dilla, kfc, coca-cola, indian soda brands limca and thums up, punjabi bhangra legend charanjit singh, d'angelo and desi pantry staple tetley tea bags. the last time i thought something was this tailor-made to my appreciation was MIA and then EVERYONE loved her before the requisite EVERYONE critically panned her third release.

im slowly realizing this blog is a place i post about other peoples music only to talk about how angry i am i can't or didn't make it. whatever the case, this is SO fucking good:

*ain't finna post mp3s. just find em. y'herd?


  1. This was a dope post, took me back. My grandmother was a Boyz-2-Men and All-4-One fan. And I listened to Jai Paul the other week and was like, what is this??

    And if you have collage art, you pretty much have my heart (PAUSE). But, yeah.

    It's so hard to say goodbye to yesterday.

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