When I think back to that era of music and culture, it is framed with the voices of Jill Scott, Erykah Badu, and India Arie. It was fabulous to attend school so close to Detroit-- a historical hub of Black music and history--and I think the energy rubbed off on [some of] us in the most positive way.
Everything about that era in R&B/hip hop culture was natural, relatively speaking. The top female performers were natural. The male performers were passionate and loving with their lyrics, and I think [some of us]/we reflected this in our energy, our efforts, and our goals.
I almost forgot about how incredibly inspiring Ms. Jill Scott was, and Ms. India Arie was. Ms. Alicia Keys...I loved her originality! And good old Mary J Blige was still there, singing and dancing her heart out, and we continued to feel EVERY word she said, good or bad.
With all due respect to Beyonce and Rihanna being Drunk In/On Love and sexy as they wanna be…it’s just not the same. And believe me...I have their albums, and I enjoy their music. It’s funky, and catchy, and they can perform their asses off…but it’s not the SAME.
The female artists today are definitely talented...but they rarely reflect or encourage anything more than vanity or extravagance with their personas. And I know there are many R&B singers out there, that aren't on the Billboard charts or Grammy stage but still doing their thing...but the sad part is they used to get some shine...and now the music industry is nowhere near embracing of that image.
If we never go back to the mood of 90s Lauryn Hill, and we never again go back to the vibe of Badu, I am glad that I was a part of the irreplaceable environment that at least made us FEEL like natural women...without pretence or ego.
Written by Stacey Marie Robinson for Kya Publishing's "Urban Toronto Tales" blog.