A Grammy Conversation: The State of R&B (Part 2)

Earlier this month, The Recording Academy held “A Grammy Conversation” on the current state of R&B music at the West Hollywood Soho House.

The evening was hosted by Quddus and included five panelists: Music Journalist Gail Mitchell, singer-songwriter/producer Liv Warfield, Grammy-winning producer LaShawn Daniels, eight-time Grammy nominee Ledisi and four-time Grammy nominee Tyrese Gibson. According to HitsDailyDouble they each attributed their inspiration to classic R&B and soul artists, including James Brown, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Etta James, Donny Hathaway, Tina Turner, Sam Cooke, Jodeci and Earth Wind & Fire.

Many issues and topics were brought up for discussion including: Will new R&B artists be heard? Will people take a chance on them? Will urban alternative artists find a way to bridge the gap between what was and what is? Is the playing field uneven between black and white artists? Is there a place for R&B in a singles-driven music industry and a society that has been hypnotized by EDM music?

In the second clip from the lengthy discussion LaShawn Daniels kept it real as he talked about the issues within certain record labels and the disconnect between what’s good for creative and what’s good for marketing. He used John Legend’s “All of Me” as an example of how labels are now often chasing records instead of putting real belief behind them. He spoke about the successful planning Motown did with their big artists and their up and comers, saying Jimmy Iovine at Interscope was also successful in doing that. But, his main point was that the song comes first and that he can not alienate what kids are doing today, or using to make their music, if that is what is getting a response from their peers.

Liv Warfield shared her story as an independent artist trying to break into the industry and the flip-flopping responses she was hearing from labels. She posed the question: Why is Sirius radio breaking so much more music than terrestrial radio and continuing to play records that FM won’t even try? Ledisi and Tyrese chimed in with their views on being independent artists and how at the end of the day they need to stay driven at their goals and not let certain aspects of the industry derail them.

Pete Rock (@PeteRock) James Brown Tribute Mix

In honor of the new James Brown film, which open in theaters this weekend Pete Rock decides to release a James Brown Tribute Mix.

“When I met James Brown, I think he passed along something to me when I shook his hand. I look at that today, and I say, “Damn, I think James Brown gave me a piece of his [soul] power.” He came to Mount Vernon and he did a concert with Bobby Bird and The JBS in my hood at a spot called the Left Bank. And I’m telling you I’ve never seen Mount Vernon so poppin’ in my entire life! It was always poppin’–don’t get it twisted–because we used to do little parties in the hood and stuff like that and everybody would come out. But James Brown — I mean I was seven years old, me and my brother Grap, and we walked in the joint and my mother talked to one of James’ bodyguards or managers or something and was asking him, “Yo, can my kids meet James?” And the next thing you know, he came up behind us and I shook his hand and he was like, “God bless you man, God bless you.” And he shook my mother’s hand and he shook my brother’s hand. And it left something with me. This was before he got on stage. He shook our hands and then we watched the show. And I left that place not the same. So you see how strong black music can be. It had a heavy impact on me in my life.”

Skip to toolbar