I have long established that I am generationally misplaced in a way that leaves me feeling like my old soul is being compromised by this modern age. I often wonder how I would have been “courted” if I dated men blessed enough to have the “oldies” as their generation’s music. Oldies. The Chi-Lites, Harold Melvin, Marvin Gaye. The kind of music that gave men a reference point on how to appreciate and treat women. (It’s like they bled on their records. They bleeeeed. They bled in a way that rappers who prematurely say “I’m going to bleed on this track” can’t even fathom.) I would even be willing to bet if this kind of emotionally charged music was blaring from men’s radios today their hearts would reflect it. Life would imitate art. They would be better men for it.
For several months I have contemplated the difference in the quality of emotion showcased in current R&B compared to the oldies. It doesn’t make sense that these male artists seemingly pour their hearts out, and the end result is still…flat. Hearing people liken Trey Songz to a modern-day Marvin Gaye is funny to me. I see him as an overgrown child. He sings about sex often but it reminds me of an inexperienced boy mimicking what his older brother said on the subject. His attempt at trying to sound passionate and sexy comes off hoaxy. To be sexy and passionate when you sing about sex, you need to intimately know the soul of the thing. “Trigga” obviously doesn’t know the soul of sex.
These men are trying to be cute with it. Soul is a combination of desperation, pain, and bliss. An emotion intensified is what it is. This kind of exaggeration is not pretty. It’s ugly. You don’t smile through soul. There is nothing pretty about soul. An attempt to make it cute is going to be a failure on its face. It’s like putting artificial sweetener in the tea. The aftertaste is bitter.
And this is the problem with male artists today. I don’t think they sing with any soul because they haven’t found it yet. Soul is created through hardships. It becomes visible through the evolution of that adversity. You don’t hear the soul in men’s voices when they sing about losing a woman because they don’t know the pain associated with losing one. In order to feel that kind of pain he would have had to place a lot of value in her in the first place. That goes to the deeper reason for the absence of soul—men’s decreased value in a sole woman.
A friend of mine, one of the best men I know, told me that songs are different now because women have made men different. He thinks that the value of women in general has diminished in men’s minds because there are so many bad quality ones that allow men to run amuck. The songs sound different because men feel differently about women.
I try to do at least one hour of cardio a day. What takes me to two hours or three is when Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes’ “I Miss You” randomly pops up from my shuffled play-list. If the incredibly beautiful pitches and perfect harmonies are not enough, towards the end of the song Melvin stops singing to his woman and just talks to her. He talks for five minutes. At one point he begs, “If I could just/If I could just see you/Can’t really say what you mean or what you want over the phone/I swear I miss you/You’ve done heard it ten times or more but/I swear I done changed/I swear I done changed.”
Listen to those words. It’s not the validity in what he’s saying that is so on point. Has he changed? Probably not. This man is saying whatever he can to get back into his woman’s good graces. He goes from “I’ve changed”, to” I’ve got a gig” to “I won the lottery”, using every strength in his arsenal to get his ex to change her mind about him. Nothing in what he is saying logically flows. The point is, his words don’t have to necessarily be perfect. With perfection though, he completely humbles himself for her. He puts his pride aside. Can men still do that?
I swear on ON EVERYTHING I LOVE if a man that I remotely still had feelings for just played this song for me because he was unable to find words of his own, he’d be forgiven. I make this promise, so freely, because I know that men of my generation will never call my bluff. Men of my generation wouldn’t think to do this for a sole woman. Even if she is a soul woman.