Music of My Mind (or why I used to think R&B was only for lonely people)

R&B is out to get me. It wants to swallow my heart whole, then puke up its pretty pieces onto my computer screen. Maxwell’s afro is not to be trusted. Do not imagine your fingers finding zen in the labyrinth of his curl pattern.


Usher’s dimples and pectoral things have been implanted by a mythical God who is responsible for the creation of all US holidays. Particularly Valentine’s Day. Do not contemplate whether his nipples are pierced. No.

Alicia Keys is not real.                                       She has received many Grammies for being able to tap her foot while playing the piano. This is not fair to people who can sing.

Like India Aire.

Flamboyant hairstyles, muscles and foot tapping are what have propelled R&B to wherever it has gone. The sympathetic lyricism has been a ploy to convert me to cupid’s convict fan club-where hearts are stolen then shelved on clearance racks.

Before 2011, every time I heard a song pertaining to the mishaps of love, it made me want to turn my underwear inside out and run down the street. I never understood the point of listening to songs telling me to “not gon’ cry”. I wasn’t crying to begin with. R&B always seemed to pull me down into a sewer of despair, desperation and served as a constant reminder of how vapidly love has been defined. I imagined R&B to be a society of broken hearts borrowing the stitches of others; creating a reliance upon someone else to heal us from our mishaps with love. I imagined myself to be too much of a “G” for all of that nonsense.

It is 2012. My perception of R&B has since shifted. Something happened.

I was fancied by a guy who moved my treble clef in a way I thought this genre never could.

He placed it onto the sheet music of many songs I’ve despised. And there I found myself, the skeleton of an R&B pop song. Singing Maxwell’s “Whenever Wherever Whatever” verbatim; tapping my foot to Alicia Keys’ “Diary“. I stopped running whenever I heard Usher’s falsetto and turned my underwear outside in.

This is not to say that I am going to join cupid’s fan club anytime soon. No. I don’t think.

It is simply to say that I have gone through things young adults go through when we really like someone who really likes us back; when thinking about our future means thinking about them in it; when daydreams of rubbing together private parts infiltrate morning meditation (and staff meetings); when you visit their family and they treat you like kin (meaning they encourage you to fix your own plate of food during get togethers); when you lose arguments because you forgot what your point was; when you do not care about losing because with them your ego is useless; when you not only turn your underwear outside in, but you spend the extra couple of dollars to buy the ones with special effects (you know, lace). Don’t act like you didn’t ever go through this.

I have also experienced a learning curve that some people go through when they really like someone who no longer really likes them back; when phone calls lose weight and start to look more like texts; when “I was just thinking about you” moments become episodes of “can you be a little more considerate?”.

And now Usher is starting to make sense to me, as is a lot of R&B I’ve kept shelved in the dusty corners of my mind.

There was a point to this post that I initially thought would create an extremely critical analysis of how flat the lyricism of popular R&B has become. But then I assumed you already know that. Plus, I would have contradicted myself several times over. Instead, I just decided to rant a bit, expose my contradictions and share with you a few songs that I hope to never find on anyone’s clearance rack. Here’s to R&B and the direction it is headed in. Wherever that is.


2 thoughts on “Music of My Mind (or why I used to think R&B was only for lonely people)

  1. The first time I heard Playa’s “Cheers 2 U” I have been swoon by ballads of R&B luv songs. I mean becoming a hopeless romantic at the same time I am figuring out how my body works was tough! Hearing Musiq, and Aaliyah, India always made me want that thing called Love. wanted that!

    Had one problem though… I never had the confidence to really tell a Lady that had my nose wide open how much I dug her, but a Listen to Maxwell’s “Get Ta Know Ya” or Bilal”s “Queen of Sanity” always gives me hope of one day mustering up that gumption to tell that lady “You are beautiful, can I get to know you.”

    Cheers 2 U R&B!

  2. do i like your writing cuz its good…..or is your writing good cuz i like you. does it matter? no not really. i think the bottomline is you have a way of opening up the discussions that the everyday person has within themselves and that voice is so familiar. hearing it/reading it has an effect that defines what a skillful lyricist is. thanks for the ride thru that bay town avenue. and please dont stop. im not exactly a fan tho if you were hot and needed a breeze it wave a folder ofr something to help you, or run by really fast. and yea id buy the book and wouldnt bother for an autograph. maybe just a laugh. R&B as of now i like ryan leslie…havent quite found a woman that i can say i really like to listen to …i’m open to hear some tho. hope the lady in my life wouldnt be jealous of that

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