Thursday, October 19, 2006

So You Wanna Be An R&B Singer???

See Part 1 - So You Wanna Be A Rapper???

Okay class, let's get back in your seats. It's time to talk about R&B.

Aspiring Rapper # 1 - Do I need to be here for this? I'm a rapper.

All of you rappers should stay. Today's R&B music has strong roots in rap music. It's almost to the point where you can't have one without the other.

Aspiring R&B singer #1 - What do you mean? I mean, I sing, I don't rap.

Well, class, let me tell you what I mean. Singers are alot like rappers now-a-days. If you listen to what is selling, you may not be able to tell the difference. There aren't too many acts that still use live instruments in R&B anymore. You're more likely to hear a sample than a guitar or drum. And some of these samples that today's R&B acts use are lifted directly from old hip hop songs. That's a trend that doesn't seem to be going away.

Aspiring R&B singer #2 - Oh, you mean like Ashanti?

That's a perfect example. Just about all her samples can be traced back to hip hop from the 80's or 90's. Lesson #1, find a hot beat that people liked before and recycle it. If you sing over the track instead of rapping, it makes it a totally new song. You in the front... how come you aren't taking notes.

Aspiring R&B singer #3 - I already know all about the rap and R&B connection. I could teach this class if I wanted to.

Really, well let's see what you got. Come on up here. What's your name?

Aspiring R&B singer # 3 - I'm Tyrese.

Thanks, Tyrese. I thought I recognized you. Please continue where I left off.

Tyrese: It's all about image. The days of the smooth R&B singer are long gone. That went out with BoyzIIMen. Today you gotta be street, just like the rappers. It's like when Puffy switched up Jodeci's image. He made those 4 R&B singers from North Carolina look like New York rappers. They still had the skills, but the street cred is what set them apart from the pack. If you look at the popular R&B cats today, you see that they all seem to have an edge to them; wearing platinum chains, saggy jeans, excessive tattoos. They almost look just like rappers.

That is a good point, Tyrese. What other knowledge would you like to share with the class?

Tyrese: Let's talk about lyrics. You can't sing about love anymore. That subject is taboo. The hip hop generation has taught us one thing. Love is for suckers. Your songs should either be about sex, the streets, or the club. If you wanna make love songs, you may need to look into Neo Soul or Adult Contemporary.

Aspiring R&B singer # 1 - That's not true. There are some people that still make love songs.

Tyrese: You can use the word love in your songs, but the attitude and meaning is really going to be about sex. You can't put your woman on a pedestal anymore. The purchasing public isn't going for that. I love you is just code for I wanna screw you. What do you think, Dr. Deniro?

I would tend to agree with Tyrese. I use people like Ne-Yo as an example. "Sexy Love" is more a song about attraction than love. It's a fine line though. Can anyone name a hit R&B song that was not about sex, the streets or the club in the last year? That will be your first homework assignment in this class. By the way, Mary J Blige doesn't count since she has been around for almost 15 years. I'm talking about new artists here. Tyrese, please continue. Your insight is amazing.

Tyrese: Well, the final piece of the hip hop/R&B connection is collaboration or as the rappers call it...collabos. Before you can make a name for yourself in the R&B field, you gotta make your talents known. The best way to do this is to jump on a song with a rapper from your record label. Is it shameless cross promoting? Yes! Is it effective? Hell yes! The fact is people don't necessarily buy your records strictly for your talent. They buy based off who you are affiliated with. Even if you are just singing a hook that a 8th grade chorus student could do, getting co signed by an established artist can do wonders for your career.

Thanks, Tyrese. I would like to add one other element of rap & B. That's the mixtape. I know most people think of rappers when they hear mixtapes, but that is a burgeoning industry for R&B singers too. You can sing over other people's songs that you wish you wrote, and show your versatility. With the lines blurring between rap and R&B, you would be wise to take advantage of this avenue. Let's move on to something else now. We talked about the hip hop image, but there's another image that sells.

Aspiring R&B singer # 1: Are you talking about sex again?

That's right. Sex Sells. So you should wear as little clothes as possible. If you look good in your video, that can help you overcome other less important shortcomings like singing ability. Let's use Ciara for example. If any of you closed your eyes and listened to her sing live, you wouldn't let her sing at Karoake, much less give her a record deal. But she was smart. In her first video, she wore an exposing bathing suit and danced like a stripper. She accentuated her positives, and hid her negatives with slick production. That really works. It's not a coincidence that a lot of the female singers out today, all have a, dare I say, promiscuous image. They are selling sex to a hot beat. There are a few exceptions like Beyonce that can really sing, but even that is not enough. She cavorts around in various stages of undress in her videos as well.

Aspiring R&B singer # 4 - What if you don't have the body to do this? I mean Kelly Price did all right for herself.

If you remember, when Kelly Price came out, her song was hot for months before the video came out. Her and her people tricked the American public into liking her first before they saw her. And when we did see her? The only thing that people talked about for months was her weight. I'm not saying there are no exceptions to the rule, but the exception proves the rule in this case. Now, before you go saying that Dr. Deniro is sexist, there are some men who do the same type of sexual pandering to become sucessful. Our esteemed guest lecturer Tyrese for example. Does he ever wear a shirt? Same thing with Marques Houston and others. They are selling sex to sell records. It's just a fact of life in today's R&B. Any further questions before we move on to Neo Soul?

Aspiring R&B singer #4 - What if I just can't sing or write lyrics but I still want to be in the music industry?

This is a great question. There are many R&B singers that just can't sing. How do they continue to sell records when there are so many more talented people that can't break into the industry? The answer is simple. You gotta dance! I'm not talking about a run of the mill two step, you gotta find a hot beat and dance your ass off. You would be amazed at what an image can do for you. If you look good and dance hard, people wont question your subpar lyrical content or your mediocre singing skills. I mean, does anyone actually think that Janet Jackson has a good singing voice? Is Omarion really the second coming of Marvin Gaye? I think not. But they are great dancers and they look like they are having a great time. That means more to the general public than you could imagine. If worse comes to worse, you can always lip synch at your concerts. Let's take another short break and then wrap up our Black Hit Records class with Neo Soul. See you in 5 minutes.

It was written...


Blogger ----- said...

You are a NERD whom I love with my whole heart!!! LOL

I was DYING laughing at Tyrese!!

Oh...wait...FIRST!!! *yep, I'm a nerd too!*


Thu Oct 19, 02:06:00 PM  
Blogger Robert L. Mack said...

Man i was *thisclose* to being first...dangit...that's ok cheated Trizz, TCas probably told you he just finished! Oh well....

I like this....

I always thought that Jodeci was from NYC

Dr. Deniro is quite the teacher. I meant to respond to yesterday's post but I got busy. But I read it and was feelin' it!

Tyrese first album was the best by the way. "Lately" is my all time fave Tyrese song....

Thu Oct 19, 02:14:00 PM  
Blogger Knockout Zed said...

You can place most of the blame at the feet of three cats from Boston: Bell, Biv, Devoe.


Thu Oct 19, 02:50:00 PM  
Blogger Miss Ahmad said...


this post makes me think of that one line with that Avant/Lil Wayne song

How he rap and got bitches like he's R&B?

awesome as usual!

Thu Oct 19, 05:58:00 PM  
Blogger i like liquor and tv said...

lol@this and lol@Tyrese...which is extra funny because he's rapping now, and he sounds JUST LIKE Ras Kass.

Thu Oct 19, 05:59:00 PM  
Blogger The Mistress said...

I love when you get all "multiple personality" on us.

You should write a fucking play. You could be the next Tyler Perry.

Anyway I agree, so many R&B singers can't SING....and I mean really sing. It pisses me off. I hate these bitches. They suck.

Fri Oct 20, 02:37:00 AM  
Blogger Miz JJ said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Fri Oct 20, 11:56:00 AM  
Blogger Miz JJ said...

It's like The Buggles sang "Video killed the radio star." Now all you need is a hot beat and some breathy vocals and voila you are an R&B singer.

Fri Oct 20, 11:56:00 AM  
Blogger SandyBaby said...

I love this!

In KZ's reference to BBD, what ever happened to all those folks they were supposedly producing - the East Coast Family? (MC Brains, Another Bad Creation aka ABC, etc) I know y'all remember!

Fri Oct 20, 12:37:00 PM  
Blogger Tenacious said...

LOL @ Tyrese mention *sigh* Tyrese stick with singing baby although Baby Boy is my honorary "Oscars" movie

Jodeci...ah I rocked the Jodeci boots and ooh yeahed with the rest of them...I did know they were never from NY though

Sat Oct 21, 12:11:00 AM  
Blogger princessdominique said...

*lol* @ Baby Boy...I ditto that!

Sat Oct 21, 06:36:00 PM  
Blogger ShellyP said...

You're really making me miss the good ole days. Writing lyrics used to be an art, sex was suggested in between the lines and not the lines themselves, and singing ability was a must. I gotta pull out some CDs....

Sun Oct 22, 01:01:00 AM  
Blogger fallen angel said...

on point as usual! i know you're gonna do a continuation, but where's the part about dying your hair blond once you start "crossing-over?"

by the way, i did my homework! do mariah's "we belong together," alicia's "unbreakable," and letoya's "torn" count as hit r&b songs from this year that weren't about sex, the streets, or the club?

Mon Oct 23, 03:18:00 AM  
Blogger Mocha_Grl said...

I'm with ShellyP, I've been listening to my old-er tunes lately wondering why I can't sing a long with the shit that comes out now-a-days...and then I realize, cuz i don't really want to sing about how some ugly dude is gonna get me wet. LOL

Mon Oct 23, 09:35:00 AM  
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Mon Oct 05, 04:11:00 AM  

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