The best form of flattery and respect is imitation. Growing up my father always told me that the music of his time was more soulful and heartfelt than the music of my time. Not to say that the songs of the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s were better than the music that we listen to today but the must of the present just lacks certain elements. One element that is lacking in mainstream music is substance. Not to criticize anyone’s way of making money or expressing themselves but I often turn the radio off due to a lack of not feeling full. While the music of today may address subjects and situations that they feel people can relate to, the power of the message is in the way that people feel you. Even if your intention is to inspire, how can you inspire people if it isn’t felt in their hearts. The words that you sing or speak hold more truth and insight than many artists realize.
Recently, many artists have paid tribute to some of the greatest musicians and artists in R & B/Soul history. The common theme of these tributes are the artists that a chosen as honories. Last summer, Boyz II Men’s most recent album included great songs from Motown Artist. Melinda Doolittle (formally of American Idol) recently released an album paying tribute to Aretha Franklin and others. When artists aren’t paying tribute to these trailblazing artists by re-recording their music, they are duplicating their sounds, such as Solange and Wayne Brady. All of the albums that I’ve mentioned thus far have had well received albums and they stay on my play list 24/7.
Many R&B/Soul and Hip Hop artists can take a cue from these artists of our past if longevity is something they strive for. Anytime, people pay homage to you 60 years later in the form of a remake, please know that you did something right.