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The Evolution Of Quality Music: In Retrospect

March 25, 2013
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I miss the days when musicians used to spend time molding and perfecting their craft, when song lyrics would speak volumes to your heart and leave you thinking about the things occurring in your life.

I miss the days of musicians like Blackstreet, 702, 112, TLC, SWV, Jodeci, Boys II Men. The days of 2 Pac, Nas, Biggie, Wu-tang Clan, Snoop Doggy Dogg, Warren G, Nate Dogg, MC LYte, Dr Dre, N.W.A. When the D’Angelo, Sade, Maxwell, Angie Stone, Erykah Badu, Maxwell, Toni Braxton’s and Mariah Carey still ruled the world with their timeless classics.

I feel deprived, as if music made today has been filtered merely to sell instead of being timeless classics. Maybe that’s why I’m struggling; struggling to find something “amazing” about the songs that people rave about, it’s almost as though my soul just won’t settle for anything less because I grew up in an era where musicians spent time perfecting their sound before releasing it to the world, where it was more about the content of the song than how much money one can make. Those days have long gone.

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I find myself scrolling through Youtube watching these old school classics and thinking to myself “they don’t make music like this anymore”. It makes me worry that our children won’t ever grow up knowing the kind of soulful classics that we all grew up on, as if they won’t ever really understand how amazing music truly is because most of what is popular today almost all sounds the same. I’m so tired of scrolling through music channels and hearing songs and seeing videos with almost the same lyrical content,  and slides of music videos compiled with a ton of similar imagery; songs that are about nothing more than “money, bitches and hoes”. Music just doesn’t sound the same any more, and I just can’t help to miss what it used to be. Timeless.

Admitted all that’s under the sun is susceptible to evolution but does quality disintegrate in the process? The artists deemed irrelevant now are the pinnacles of quality music. Listen to the ‘new school’ and you’ll hear similarities if not a carbon copies of the golden era. What deviates artists from delivering their talent on the mic? Why do a ton of the artist jump on the ‘what’s hot’ wagon instead of taking to the masses with their unique talents?

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Macy Gray is not the poster of church choir singing but she carved her own lane and still is respected for that raspy voice of hers. That was her ‘edge’. A large number of our artists are pro the art and will shut down any claims of them ‘selling out’ but if you take a closer look at their albums, they are easily boxed with whichever trends are in the music scene at the time. There is no risk taking. There is no unique talent. All are the same; David Guetta sound-alikes with Future hooks. Cause that’s ‘what’s in’ right now, right? We are living in an era of who puts out the music first more than who puts out quality music. We have an over abundance of music yet a lesser quality music. We can say there’s too much music to delve into but what’s the point of delving into the same repetitive sound over every record?

When I was growing up, we had groups that imitated some of the legendary groups such as Dru Hill, Silk, Blackstreet, and Kriss Kross among others, but now it seems everyone wants to be in the industry for the fame instead of showcasing their talent. This is where the quality of music falls apart. We have the ‘new school’ sampling some of the golden era sounds, but do you believe five years from now that producers will be sampling anything from your current playlist? I think not. Why recycle something that doesn’t have longevity?

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Do you remember Chingy? Do you remember J-Kwon? What about the girl group called 3LW? What about the Xhosa rapper My Man? The point is it’s easier to fizzle into into the oblivion when there isn’t quality substance in your music. If your music is about money, the next top earner will take your spot. If you sing about parties, the next promoter will have a bigger party and make you seem miniature and irrelevant. If you make music that is heartfelt and relatable across generations, your legacy is cast in stone and even more when musicians re-enact, sample or cover your music.

Quality will always supersede quantity. Our music of ‘now’ will not be appreciated in the future because there’s no craftsmanship. Rather songs about Ciroc, Louis Vuitton and strip clubs. Our musical generation has grown into a moneymaking hobby not an artform to be appreciated over the years. So I decided, I’m going to collect albums from the 60’s – 90’s, and store them for my kids, because I don’t ever want them to be deprived of the timeless classics that still fill my heart with joy, years after they were released.

After all, it’s thanks to my parents that their generation’s sounds fell upon my ears. Like a welcomed evolution of sorts.

Written By: @MzLee_ And @SDotJR_

2 Comments

  1. So true. Music we could relate to… I doubt listeners relate to the “depth” of clubs, ho%s and over-priced liquor.

  2. If all you listen to is the radio then maybe this holds true. But there are loads of artists that are making amazing music, only difference is that you have to look a little bit nowadays. The writers sound jaded, which is interesting because we’ve come out of a year where musicians have released great material.