Premiere: 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.

Check out the interview clip below:

If you missed Part 1 check it out here.

  1. PhilipClark 9 years ago

    These are great discussions. Thanks so much for posting!

  2. TJ Brister 9 years ago

    Loved it, I want more!!

  3. John 9 years ago

    Bravo to the Academy for hosting this! R&B must be heard!

  4. rd1981 9 years ago

    I miss the days when rnb music dominated the radio , music videos and charts, before the internet pretty much killed it. It shouldn’t have to take us bridging the gap to the youth, I mean I’m 32, but when I was a kid I listened to what grown folks was into, Jodeci, Keith Sweat, Babyface, Toni Braxton, Anita Baker etc. it’s crazy that people pay to get their music played on the radio, I wonder what can be done to change that.

    I think if people actually supported R&B artists by purchasing their music, then the numbers wouldn’t lie and there would be a better representation on the radio. I mean people would rather throw their money away on BS that is only good for a season, instead of buying an album of music that they can remember forever. I don’t even think people listen to a whole album like we use to, that’s sad, maybe the quality has gone down as far as songwriting and producing. But I still buy my r&b music even though there’s spotify and ways to download it for free, just to support the cause.

  5. Kelcine 9 years ago

    Tyrese was on his real again.
    It just got outed that “Fancy” was being promoted by ClearChannel radio stations to be played a minimum of 150 times a day…even if no one requested it. I have a friend who is a producer who talks about the algorithm they put music through to make sure that it’s catchy enough to get stuck in your head and, if it doesn’t fit the algorithm, the song has to be remade until it does. It’s all about profit and loss now and, if it weren’t for R&B music blogs like this (and mine) artists like these would fall into the ditch on the side of the road because they aren’t marketable enough.

  6. ALM247 9 years ago

    “I think if people actually supported R&B artists by purchasing their music, then the numbers wouldn’t lie and there would be a better representation on the radio”.

    I want to believe this too, but there seems to be a conscious effort by some in the music industry to try to silence the voices of some in r&b while promoting other voices as the “new era of r&b”. See the careers of Ledisi, Raheem DeVaughn and Lalah Hathaway with respect to the careers of Adele, Sam Smith and Justin Timberlake.

    Timberlake makes pop music. He has made it clear for YEARS that he wants to be respected specifically as an r&b artist. Timberlake never could force the r&b audience to exalt him over Usher, Joe, etc., so the recording academy HANDED him an r&b grammy last year. Timberlake had no reason to win that grammy for SEVERAL reasons.

    Three of those reasons are :
    1. He makes pop music. He uses a TON of r&b influence in his music, but he only wants to use r&b for his own gain. Timberlake is not in it for the long haul. Look at what he did to Janet Jackson. Trotted her out there to boost his profile, and threw her under the bus as soon as the heat was on. Timberlake has now moved on to unnecessarily jumping onto Michael Jackson’s tracks.

    2. Tamar Braxton released a stellar effort in “Love and War”. Tamar can be a boisterous hype machine, but Tamar and LaShawn backed that hype up, and Timberlake had no reason to win over Tamar.

    3. Timberlake has the option of being nominated in all of the major categories. This is an option that the vast majority of today’s r&b artists do not have, because the grammy awards are now less about the quality of music and more about playing politics and awarding one’s industry friends.

    When I attend r&b concerts, the numbers tell a different story from the numbers that the album sales tell. These r&b artists are selling out shows left and right and adding additional tour dates. Keep in mind that the majority of the money for these singers is made in touring, especially if they don’t write or produce their own music. Don’t worry so much. Now if the public stops buying concert tickets, then you can get worried :)

  7. rd1981 9 years ago

    wow, I just checked that Grammy ballet for best R&B song, you’re right, they gave it to him for pusher lover girl. Tamar’s record was definitley better than his. Now that I think of it, I remember being mad about this. I don’t think the radio even played his song on the radio down here in the tampa bay area, lol, at least not on the urban station. I mean it was a good song, but I swear Love and War is one of those songs that you knew was on the radio before you even turned your car on, and it never got old.

  8. Paula B 9 years ago

    I say this all the time about XM ! Why is the main stream radio playing the same 15 songs all day trying to convince you that this is what EVERYBODY likes? Why is this not illegal to basically brainwash us into liking certain music? I pay XM my $20 a month to not have to deal with it because I really cant stand feeling that way. And its funny because those 15 songs are rarely the top choices on Shade 45/Hip-Hop Nation/The Heat. How do we change this?

  9. Wadena Pyatt 9 years ago

    What’s going on right now with African American/ Black Artist and R&B is a sign from God for us to get right, do right and respect each other’s creative writing in this music industry. For example, you always hear about song jacking, copyright infringement, music beef and violence coming from who? African American/Black R&B, hip hop and rap artist. Major record labels have been spending out lots of money in legal fees and settlements because of African American/Black celebrity artist who are desperate for a hit record who either stealing songs from other well-known artist and or lesser known songwriters/producers. They end up paying out a large amount of money to cover up such deceit even though it may cause injustices being done towards an innocent artist/songwriter as what is happening to me with the ongoing beef between Usher Raymond, Alicia Keys, Wyclef Jean, Toby Ryan, Jeff Robinson, MBK Entertainment, others and I. However, you do not find such song jacking occurring so often and disrespect amongst white artist and those in other categories of music as what take place in R&B, hip hop and rap. Most times, white artist fairly compensate and give credit to those who have given them music. This is why white artist and many others have had a very blessed year in 2013. While for the first time ever, we as black artist didn’t even have a number one hit on billboard’s top 100 in 2013. God don’t like ugly and when you misuse the gift that cometh from the Lord and mistreat your sisters and brothers by stealing, then trying to destroy them as what was done to me, “karma comes back around” as my song “Caught Up” say. Those tables do turn around for sure and it will remain this way until black artist stop mistreating each other and stealing music. Respect other artist and songwriters work, no matter their status of celebrity, independent, lesser known or not. Take a chance on talented lesser known artist and songwriters who are hit songwriters like me. By doing so, then we wouldn’t need these types of discussions:) Blessings to you all and I hope you do something about the current state of R & B!

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