Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Oldies, But Goodies: The Evolution of Music

From the likes of The Temptations to Boyz II Men, The Manhattans to Jocedi, The Supremes to SWV, Labelle to TLC, The O’Jays to H-Town, The Marvelettes to Xscape, The Jackson 5 to Men At Large, and Martha Reeves and the Vandellas to En Vogue, they all illustrate the parents and offspring of music.  Over the decades, music has definitely evolved.  When I turn on the radio, very rarely do I hear the infamous and harmonious sounds and styles of such groups.  The mainstream rotation is flooded with the likes of Nicki Minaj, Lil Wayne, Lil Boosie, Waka Flocka, and Drake, just to name a few.  Even the brand of rap music has changed, and in my opinion, not for the better.  I will admit that I sometimes enjoy listening to rap music from the 80’s and 90’s as oppose to the rap music of today.  However, this is my opinion and preference.  What is your opinion and preference?  I have to listen to a bunch of nonsense on the radio before I can hear something worth enjoying.  What has happened?  Old school music was not solely about making money, but it also truly meant something in the process.  However, now it seems that any and every thing is put to a beat, and money is all that matters.  This is the reason why I do not listen to the radio as much, not the regular stations anyways. 

Recently I have found a new love for Sirus/XM Satellite Radio, as it caters to all types of genres.  On satellite, I can enjoy the sounds of the aforementioned groups as well as the likes of Marvin Gaye, Gladys Knight, Gerald Levert, Mariah Carey (old school), Whitney Houston (old school), Keith Sweat, and Luther Vandross, just to name a few.  I understand that such groups and solo artists are considered “oldies”, but they are also “goodies”, and most importantly, have meaning and appeal to the ear.  When I do want to enjoy the new school sounds of Ginuwine, Monica, Kandi Burruss, or Robin Thicke, satellite radio allows me to choose the perfect station that caters to this genre without having to listen to what I feel is displeasing to the ear.  

According to the letter and video directed to Lil Wayne from ten year old Nia, nine year old Nya, and five year old Kamaria (collectively aliased as Watoto From the Nile), such music is also displeasing to their ear; specifically, Lil Wayne in their letter/video.  They feel that artists such as Stevie Wonder, Lauryn Hill, Jill Scott, and Michael Jackson, just to name a few, make music that completes their soul.  Furthermore, such artists make music that have meaning and make individuals want to dance, clap their hands, and stump their feet, as oppose to promoting the degradation of women (queens, according to Watoto), drugs, and profane language.  In my opinion, it is commendable for such young children to express such strong feelings.  As the good ole' saying states, "Well, you've heard it from the mouth of the babies!"

One thought that always ponders my mind is, "I wonder if music will ever be what it used to be.  They say history repeats itself.  I sure would like to see that history repeated."  I concur with the lyrics of Marvin Gaye when he sings, "Ah, mercy, mercy me.  Ah, things ain't what they used to be, nah."  The question is, "What's Going On?" (Gaye, 1971).  

Why don't you Share In The BlogLedge, and post your sentiments about this topic.


  1. What is going on? Both Everything and Nothing. We are to this new generation what our parents were to us when we were young. They see us as older and un-hip. We see them as misguided, disconnected, and culturally deprived youth. As for music (or anything else), people tend to be locked in or more biased towards the decade in which they were born. After all, life did seem to be the best when you were young! Music/Movies actually had substance. Cars/Shoes were the best! Why do you think everything is a remake (cars, shoes, movies)! Athletes played for the love of the game, were more competitive, and were more loyal to their fans/cities.

    Culture evolves...and it seems like not for the best. Or better put...everything degrades with time: societal moral standards, economy, quality of life, etc. As Tupac says..."That's just the way it is, things will never be the same" :/

  2. I'm with you 100% on this topic. It's hard to find good music these days. Just a few days ago I was in Best Buy and that was one of the things that I told the employee as he was trying to make a sale, I told him that you just can't find good music and that there wasn't enough to choose from anymore. The music scene has changed a whole lot over the years. It's hard to get in the groove to the new music like the oldies can make you feel. Sometimes I get so frustrated with the radio that I just turn it off and ride in silence, it just like it was when we were younger ( and you no I can relate).

  3. Typo: I meant, it's just not the same like it was when we were younger ( you know I can relate)

  4. Justin: I agree that times bring about a change, and I even can understand today's youth viewing us as "un-hip" as we did our elders. However, the difference is, as "un-hip" as we perceived our elders, we still enjoy(ed) the music from their day. If I ask most youth today about some of the artists/groups in my post, they will give me a puzzled look. They may recognize The Jackson 5/Michael Jackson, but not too many others. Furthermore, if they do recognize the names, they definitely do not recognize the music.

    I concur with your remake comment as I stated something similar in saying that history repeats itself. Unfortunately in this situation, the only history repeated is a sample(s) from an old school song or totally remaking the old school song. Sadly in most cases (not all), the remakes do not do the song any justice, but more of a disgrace.

    I agree that some parts of evolution is not for the best, and it is disappointing that things will never be the same.

    Thanks Justin, for Sharing In The BlogLedge! :)

  5. KaJuanza: You know that I know just how much you can relate :) I completely agree with you in that music does not make me feel the way it use to in the past. This is why when I go into an "old school daze" listening to old school music, I am in a total different mindset and mood. It just means so much more to me. Today's music just does not do that for me, unfortunately. The music shelves in the stores definitely have changed, I agree. I remember a time when I would know what CD I wanted before I even went into the store, but when I got in the store, my mind would go blank. This was because I got distracted with so many other CDs that were on the shelves that I had not even thought of purchasing.

    By the way, we had some good days when we were growing up listening to all types of oldies, but goodies. Didn't we? I miss that! :)

    Thanks KaJuanza, for Sharing In The BlogLedge! :)

  6. I'm glad to know that I'm not the only one out there who still like the oldies, as I call them. My friends and I are always talking about having a party with the old school beats. I was recently at my cousin's party for his 16th birthday and it was funny how the music they played was like the same thing over and over, and no one was dancing or anything, then the DJ just played a song and said it was for all the "parents" because it was an older song, but everybody got up to dance even the kids, so in my mind I know that good music has not been forgotten, even by those who shoud be too young to remember. I recently heard a song, by RKelly I think and it has an old school beat to it to me and I think in a matter of time, more and more artist will be dropping singles with some old school flare to them. And there may be some out there now, i just don't know about them because I never have time to stop and just enjoy the music. lol

  7. Tamika: When I composed this post, I was thinking the same thing, that I should have an oldies close-knit party one day. I am sure it would be nice. I am glad to know that some of the younger generation recognize oldies; glad that it urged them to dance at the party as oppose to the new school songs. Many parties/club scenes these days do play the same songs repeatedly and unfortunately, not the old school songs either, I concur. In my opinion, that gets old, older than the so-called "oldies". Hopefully if RKelly and the like thereof continue to step into that "trend-setter" light, then younger artists will follow suit. Hopefully! The music world can definitely use the change.

    Thanks Tamika, for Sharing In The BlogLedge! :)

  8. I totally agree with your take on the quality of today's music. I often find myself reverting back to old music than listening to what is played today. There are still good artists out there (i.e. Raheem Devaughn, Corrine Bailey Rae, etc.), but they rarely "blow up" like those who are in the mainstream. Therefore, I wouldn't say that all music out there today is bad. However, profit and appeal does trump talent, and originality is almost unheard of. Thankfully, sites like Pandora allow you to select stations with artists who only appeal to you. I would be lying to say that I don't find myself jamming to Wayne, Boosie, and sad to say even Waka sometimes. There's a time and place for everything, but nothing compares to the oldies! With that being said, Stevie Wonder's greatest hits will continue to be played weekly on my ipod!

  9. Chauncey: There are still great artists out there who REALLY appreciate music and produce songs that truly have meaning, I concur. Sadly they are not heavily rotated on the mainstream as the likes of those other artists. Now don't get me wrong, I too "jam" to the likes of Boosie or Drake at the right time; say on the yard in college or at a certain type of party, but that is very rarely. There is a time and place for everything, I concur. Those types of songs are made for just that: partying. There is no REAL meaning to them. Nonetheless, even old school music can get a person "crunk" on the yard and at parties as well. However, when I am riding in my car or relaxing just listening to music, the radio is not the avenue I take. Listening to the lyrical content of such songs do not even hold a fourth of the torch to the likes of old school music. So yes, I can appreciate the likes of pandora or sirius/xm radio that allows a person to select a genre that best suits them.

    As far as Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Freddie Jackson, and so on so forth, they will always be on heavy rotation in my collection. :)

    Thanks Chauncey, for Sharing In The BlogLedge! :)


  11. Ivory: It is amazing to see how the crowd reacts when an "old school joint" is played. The crowd goes wild. As Tamika previously stated, she went to her cousin's 16th birthday party and no one (not even the younger guests) was dancing to today's music. However, as soon as the DJ put on an old school song (for the older guests), EVERYONE got up and started dancing. On any given day I would rather listen to old school as oppose some of the new school, I concur (because some new school is okay, SOME).

    Thanks Ivory, for Sharing In The BlogLedge! :)

  12. I think generations need to have a learned appreciation for music that is not like their own. Music has evolved over time taking on whatever form a generation best feels represents them. There was a time when hip hop in general was considered garbage but times have changed and so must we. If you don't like it DON'T listen! Or, take this opportunity as a lesson in tolerance.

    Now, I can say I don't think every song out now is pure genius but trust me, neither are ALL the oldies. Lets be honest, most of the groups you speak of are not of our era... some but not most. We hear hand me downs from parents and the timeless classics on the radio. Be real and name a Temptation song that was made post your 4th birthday. *Crickets* You can't... I know I can't. My point is we typically end up hearing the best of the oldies and the generations that follow us will hear the best of our time... our timeless classics. And history will continue to repeat itself... with centuries of generations asking the same question you posed in this blog post.

    Last but not least, I must approach this from a business perspective since that's my educational background. Music today is a simple example of supply and demand. The music industry will continue to supply what the consumers respond positively to and believe me... it is not just the new generation that is driving demand right now. Someone stated earlier there are plenty of R&B singers out there w/ an old school feel, true, and they don't get nearly as much support as the number of people complaining about the state of music. So let's not kid ourselves... we (as a collective) are getting what we are asking for.

    Just the two cents of a music enthusiast!

  13. I totally agree with you Michelle, music has totally changed. I for one no longer really care for rap music anymore, but from time to time i fall into your category of a song or two appealing to me because of the beat. But unlike you a lot of the old old skool music i don't know about either, I just play it by ear. As for "nothing new under the sun" In some form or fashion we may fall back to what to you call as real rap music.

  14. Unfortunately, the music today continues to be less pleasing and more degrading. One reason being that this has a direct relationship with the fact that the fan base of these musicians contine to grow and as such, they continue to produce more junk to satisfy their fans.

    Also, another reason could be that majority of the artists you referenced sing and rap about things they've been exposed to in their communities. Be it growing up without one or both parents, being exposed to violence, abuse, drugs, female degradation and the chase for fast money. As much as I disagree with a lot of the music I hear on the radio, music is a form of expression and that's how these people express themselves. That being said, my point is, there are deeper issue in terms of the reason why music is the way it is. Solving these societal issues that have been deeply rooted in our society, especially in the black community might be a step forward to resolving so many issues and perhaps, one being the current music genre.

  15. In my opinion, it all comes from what a person defines as music. With that being said, society has greatly changed, and what was unacceptable is now perfectly fine. For example, BET music awards has tremendously changed. There is nothing wrong with honoring the music industry, however, I feel that there is something wrong with promoting things that clearly disrespects what is ethically and morally correct. How is it that I am allowed to come on national Television with a glass of alchol, and my pants sagging to the floor? Its all about the dollar bills... Clearly it's evident that I can support you but as a producer and owner of a record label there are certain things that I will not support if in fact I cared about the message that it sends. All music I think has a message, however what that message is and how it affects the nation as a whole is the question at hand..

  16. Hopefully, I can hit a number of points while remaining intact and contributing to the topic. Ms. Boyd, you touched upon a sensitive subject regarding the changing of the guards with respect to music. I'd be remissed if I didn't embark upon the direction of music, albeit today, tomorrow, or even yesterday. When you hear a Shirley Bassey, Nat King Cole, Billy Joel, Naturally 7, Harry Connick Jr., Michael Bublé, Kem, Algebra, Urban Mystic, Hil St. Soul, Jesse Powell, Trina Broussard, or a Steven Russell (formerly of Troop), I am hopeful sound will never be lost. I mean music can endure the ages. I hope that as long as the desire remains to produce a sound that is essentially respective of all aspects, I am encouraged to listen and appreciate. As for the auto-tunes, beat machines, simulated horns and string sounds, I am sure some artists will get back to the richness of art appreciation. If, say, a singer who appreciates their own vocal instrument with all the nuances and throws of life they must endure to maintain and protect said (voice), then they should be thrilled to be in the company of other artists who've honed their respective craft. How refreshing and celebratory it must be to be surrounded by artists who have such a passion for the clarinet, bassoon, oboe, or strumming the contrabass as does an Esperanza Spalding so effortlessly, for example...but I digress.

    More to the point, something is amiss with this wave of accept-all-forms of expression. As it is artistic, but by whose standards? I am not a fan of any and every sound that makes money. I mean, I am not a fan of chaotic and mass destructive sounds, yet thunder roaring or the sound of water crashing upon rocks at a waterfall is moving. But in the grand schema of noise orchestrated to entertain and enthuse, I call upon musicians to reflect on the history of music; the efforts made and suffrage withstood should not be mocked or muddled over. Music, or the sound of, is serious business as it conveys an usherance of ingenuity for the upcoming fledgling artist. If care is not taken to critique and redress foolhardiness for the sake of capitalism, then we are left with what have you in the aftermath. All people can have a voice for what is deemed acceptable in society or for segments of the country with respect to music. I do hope that we, as a society, can tease out the riff-raffs that do no good for the mindset of the current and future generations. Yeah, I like a good laugh and comedy has it's place, but how many grills or gold-fronts must I see before I refuse to watch videos any longer. It is an epidemic and I for one would be happy to see fewer videos of half-naked bodies and dudes with 90% of their underwear showing. Honestly, what does gold teeth, house shoes, liquor, sagging pants, thongs, and cursing have to do with artistry or music for that matter? I am still trying to figure out what happened to family values and enriching family events. Has technology taken over our lives? Do we not have time to stand up against garbage? Or are we left with accepting whatever the majority forces upon us? We should call a spade a spade and trash, trash. There is a saying: tell the truth and shame the devil. There is a lot of truth telling that should be spoken. Thanks for the opportunity to share.

  17. Krystal G: In the words of Johnny Gill, "My, My, My", I can appreciate healthy opposition and debate. :)

    You stated, "If you don't like it, don't listen." I guess I can get with that, but it still does not change the fact that music may be at an all time high money-wise, but quality-wise, it is at an all time low. Now don't get me wrong, I know such artists feed into what the public wants, but where did the begin wanting such? It is a sad fact. I know that not ALL old school music was great, but majority rules. And in this case, majority of old school music is of better quality than that of the new school music. Now I concur that most of the aforementioned artists are not of our era, but for us to know it so well, and for generations after us to know it and "groove" to it, says something. I could be wrong for what I am about to say, BUT, I somehow think that if a pole was taken, most old school songs (from the 90s ooonnnn back) would have a higher percentage rate at getting the "attention" of all types of generations as oppose to that of the new school. Yes, new school does have some older-aged followers/listeners, but not as many younger-aged followers/listeners as the old school. That's good music.

    Now from a business perspective, I do understand your supply and demand rationale. However, as I inquired earlier, why is such even highly demanded????? It's absurd!

    BTW: Hilarious cricket intermission. :)

    Thanks Krystal G. (music enthusiast), for Sharing In The BlogLedge! :)

  18. "I guess I can get with that, but it still does not change the fact that music may be at an all time high money-wise, but quality-wise, it is at an all time low." Do you realize that those individuals that listened to the likes of the Temptations and Earth, Wind and Fire thought that Dougie Fresh and Run DMC music quality was at an all time low. The point I was trying to make was not one of opposition but one that appeals to that part of every generation that wished the one before could have or would have understood "their" music. I'm not a fan of most music that comes out today in regards to rap but I can respect them as artist expressing themselves as well as their generation. Most raps today are based on a catchy hook and nice beat that admittedly I usually end up singing but would I ever buy it... no. However there are people who love it and buy it because it makes them feel something or they can relate. Isn't that what art is suppose to do... make somebody feel something. And who is anyone to say its not good enough or not to change what that artist thinks is his/her masterpiece. Music is an art and we should build up an appreciation or at least a tolerance for that which we may not necessarily choose or understand. That is my point. Because to one person a song is garbage but to another its the life they live or want tolive and gives them something to hold on to, or look forward to, or simply loose themselves in. So instead of the ridicule I say don't listen. I say find artist you do like and play there cd's. Because you can't take away some other generations expression b/c you don't agree with it. And maybe, just maybe as more of us who don't care for their music yet support it anyways show that we do not want to listen to it and the demand begins to go down radio stations, tv and other media outlets will begin to play a healthy mix of artist that everyone can live with.

  19. Mz Nurse: Rap music has definitely changed, I concur. To be honest with you, not all of rap music of say Notorious B.I.G. was respectful either, but it was just something about the music that still got the attention of all types of generations. Furthermore, rappers such as he, rapped about something where you understood and it truly had meaning. I cannot say the same unfortunately for most rappers today (some are okay, SOME).

    BTW: You have been deprived as I have always said...LOL.

    Thanks Mz. Nurse, for Sharing In The BlogLedge! :)

  20. Lola: You stated, "One reason being that this has a direct relationship with the fact that the fan base of these musicians contine to grow and as such, they continue to produce more junk to satisfy their fans." I completely agree. As Krystal G mentioned, from a business perspective, the supply and demand rationale kicks in with this situation. Further, it is quite sad that the fan base of such continues to grow, absurd even.

    Now in some instances, some artists do rap/sing about what they've lived, but most are promoting the image. In their real lives, they are nothing like what they rap/sing about. Further, some rappers do not even have the same tone when they talk as when they rap. I was amazed to hear how profound some of them are in real life outside of their celebrity. You know it is a sad day, when what's demanded is such deplorable music. Why?? Krystal stated, "if you don't like it, don't lister." I understand her comment, but ONLY to a certain extent. No, I do not have to listen to such and who am I to say it is deplorable right? However, my not listening to it does not change my opinion (and TRUST I do not listen to it, very few make it to my ears). It is a sad revolving cycle that such is put out and then demanded....demanded and then put out. Of course the future of our children do not even stand a chance. With that being said, I agree with you in that the problem is rooted deeper. And that if some societal issues were resolved, it may assist in resolving some of the issues there are about today's music.

    Thanks Lola, for Sharing In The BlogLedge! :)

  21. Katrice: "...it all comes from what a person defines as music." Nicely put. I wonder at what point did the "unacceptable" become acceptable. It is ridiculous in my opinion.

    I for one am a fan of the annual BET Awards, but I agree that it has evolved tremendously. There are some parts where I can go take care of things around the house while they play, because it is absolutely unacceptable. For instance, at one time, the show would end with Lil Wayne (or the like thereof) and his entire 100 member entourage on the stage performing throwing up signs, sagging, and all "posted up". This was to come shortly after he received an award. I would be like, "OMGoodness, why?" Please do not honor such, because it is not honorable, it is sad and a disgrace. I agree with you when you said it is a sad day when it is acceptable to be on national television on stage with a "pimp cup" of alcohol, and worse, they'll be the ones who are hosting the show. I shake my head every single time!

    Some songs that are out now scream, "Screw quality and meaning! GIVE ME THE MONEY!" It is evident too.

    Thanks Katrice, for Sharing In The BlogLedge! :)