‘On and On’, ‘Brown Skin’ and ‘Teach Me’, are just a few of the hundreds of tunes that many of us neo-soul fans have enjoyed over the years. The likes of Erykah Badu, India Arie, Dwele and Musiq Soulchild are amongst an array of artists who have held it down on the neo-soul front for more than a decade. However, as a keen listener I am left wondering where are the N-S artsists of my generation and where is this genre headed?
Let me start then by assessing the current NS artists, by that I mean those who have released material within the past 12 months. Well that’s not too hard as some of this genre’s pioneers have given us songs such as Co-Co Butter by India Arie (2013) and Dwele’s Obey (2012). Erykah Badu had said during the Billboard Awards that she’s working on new material and Jill Scott similarly. Last year Robert Glasper’s Album, Black radio incorporated such a high calibre of talent including Leilah Hathaway, Ledisi and Bilal. However, with the exclusion of Black Radio, much of this music received few aclaims in comparison to the popularity of Apple Tree and Brown Sugar, years earlier.
Okay, so now lets assess N-S artists who have only emerged in the last 12 months. This doesn’t appear to be so easy and here lies the problem. There does seem to be more current releases that show neo-soul influences like Jhene Aiko; and Lauren Hill has signed up to release an album in the future. Considering that N-S is analougous to RnB and Soul perhaps I should consider Lianne La Havas as the chanteuse who is most likely to set N-S music on to it’s next course. Her songs like ‘Don’t Wake Me Up’ and ‘Gone’ is reminiscent of Corrine Bailey Rae, with her own unique injection of vibrancy. I struggle to believe that one person can keep a genre of music alive!
Sadly, as I come to the end of this article I think it’s clear that neo-soul is fast dying out and that from its peak it has definitely slumped. Here in the UK we are very blessed to have a range of talented underground artists. I’m finding some sort of hope in the likes of Jamal Ross, JP Cooper and Marie Dhalstrom. All of these artists have a warm sound, with their own unique resonances. The standard and quality of these artists is phenomenal and I highly recommend you have a listen.
So to sum this rambling up, Neo-Soul is a dying genre however, there is hope of a ressurection thanks to some of the artists who are coming up and I’m sure will ‘blow up’ within the next couple of years. I really do hope that this is the case as this is a genre that has maintained its quality and class since it was born in the 1990s and has provided much enjoyment ever since.
Post written 15th July 2013