For years, people have been saying that R&B is a dying genre. Many of the R&B songs on the radio have a rapper featured on them, and many rap songs feature the same R&B crooners. So, what happened to soul music? It’s a question that many have asked, but few have given a real answer to.
When we went looking for R&B, our search started and ended with a music master–Jermaine Dupri.
JD’s discography reads like a Who’s Who in R&B, his work with his own artists on So So Def are only a few of his musical triumphs. This is, after all, the man who crafted “We Belong Together.” The song, which is considered Mariah’s comeback single, won two Grammy’s, and was deemed song of the year on several high-profile charts. “We Belong Together,” was a sparsely-produced song where the vocals are used like an instrument, something that Dupri feels is what’s lacking in R&B. “I think people want to get back to the instrumentation. That, and music that says something.”
At Southside Studios, a select number of journalists were treated to a private conversation with Dupri, and hit songwriter, Bryan Michael Cox; who are both working with an emerging R&B sensation, Mishon. Best known for his role as Tay Sutton on the ABC Family series, Lincoln Heights, Mishon is now seriously pursuing his music career and he’s been fortunate enough to work with two of the greats. “I started with music,” he says of his transitioning career, “I actually did music on the show. It’s always been a passion of mine.” He isn’t totally out of acting either, this fall Mishon will appear in a BET original movie, Frat Brothers with Romeo Miller.
Mishon released a mixtape earlier this year, “The Gift,” which spawned a few singles, but his debut album on Columbia is sure to be a game-changer. Executive produced by Jermaine Dupri, the as-yet-untitled album will also feature songwriting and production by Sean Garrett and Bryan-Michael Cox. “He’s gon’ keep it young, but at the same time, I keep hearing people talk about wanting real R&B. I’m just really sitting around waiting to see if people are going to put their arms around R&B music,” says JD, “I think it’s a funny thing happening right now. People are concerned with getting their songs on the radio as opposed to making the best music they can make. I think the only person that could change that would be a younger person.”