Hearts Old Skool R&B

Warning: This post contains some Youtube clips that might consume your bandwidth.

Sigh, today I’m gonna be a bit melancholic, strolling down memory lane. Many of you surely reminisce the sweet ol’ 80’s where every kids were carefree even there were no broadband internet and techy gadgets and toys. I was born in the late 70’s and the 80’s was my prime era of growing up. Loved the cartoons, the soaps, the music, the school, the toys…damn, puppy loves too?

As many of you know that Youtube has already been acquired by the search engine conglomerate – Google for $1.65 billion early this month. Undeniably, it was one of the most historic event in the net/IT scene this year. Not sure what are their future plans on Youtube, but they better be good in preserving all those uploaded stuff, I hope. Well, let me digress before I endup tech-talking.

Youtube has been a hub for thousands (maybe millions) of video clips, and among those clips are shitloads of 80’s MTV uploaded by fans from that era. Just couple of nights ago I have been scouring all over Youtube for some R&B music and to my surprise, I stumbled across plethoras of 80’s R&B clips!

Being an ardent fan of black urban music for more than 15 years now, those searches are addictive enough to make me stall in front of the PC playing and scouring for more until I forgot my initial plans for that evening! I was so carried away that I played every favorite clip that I recollect back from those days! Amazing!

Sooo delighted cos many rare clips that used to be big hits during the 80’s & 90’s were ubiquitously available in all corners of Youtube. I came across some classic slowjams from artists like Glenn Jones, Johnny Gill, Luther Vandross, Jodeci, Shai, Hi-Five, Aaron Hall, TLC and damn, many more!

Maybe most of you nowdays don’t even have a single clue about those names. They were big that time when Jay-Z wasn’t famous, Beyonce was no where to be found, Usher was burning his first ciggie and 50 cent was merely a penny, loafing off school tryina rap right.


Glenn Jones – We’ve Only Just Begun, my fave classic 80’s slowjam.

Those days, I was the only strange fella in my circle as it was so unusual when everyone was so hooked up with the mainstream pop shit which was predominantly white-Caucasian singers; I was hooked up with something ‘dark’ and different.

It may have been the result of media and racial stereotyping as fair-skinned Asian back in the days find black music was kinda unappealing and unpopular.I admit, I do listen to abit of Wilson Phillips, Roxette, Duran Duran, Pet Shop Boys and other pop acts to name a few, but wasn’t a fan at all as I couldn’t get much of a soul fulfilment with pop compared to when I was listening to black music.

I genre-hopped from pop to R&B/rap/hiphop when I was a big fan of New Kids On The Block (NKOTB) with familiarisation with the likes of the Knight brothers – Jon & Jordan, Danny Wood, Donny Wahlberg, and Joe McIntyre (damn, I still remember their names) until in the group’s later albums, their songs became more inclined to R&B.

The soulful R&B tune got me hooked up instantly. It wasn’t a surprise because their composer was a prolific black dude called Maurice Starr who delivers R&B influences in NKOTB’s songs in their later album. Many of you may not know that NKOTB was actually an answer to New Edition, a black R&B group whom Maurice Starr was grooming and working along as well at that time.


Aaron Hall – I Miss You, a sample of soulful and touchy

I didn’t realise during the time when NKOTB rised to stardom, other African American R&B bands itself has emerged massively in the States and was topping the charts whilst back in Malaysia, we have no clue at all about ‘R&B’ as the media was busy promoting mainstream pop, pop and nothing but white pop. Back in the days pop are synonymous with whites, and strictly a white thing without the media foreseeing that R&B will eventually establishing their true credentials in the future music scene.

R&B existed way back in the early 50’s but the term itself was actually coined and assigned in the late 40’s but wasn’t officially recognised. R&B used to be known as race music, a proprietary music of the African American before it was changed to its current name. R&B was born partly as the result of racial segregation and suppression.

Due to those suppressions, African American turn to music where music became a medium of expressing themselves. Unbeknown to circumstances, the accompaniment of poetry and churchy praises with the fusion of gospel, jazz and blues influences, R&B was born.

In their outcry, mostly political – they express their anger, happiness, and dissatisfaction in music. The black music pathway branched out when the fundamentalist expressed theirselves via a fast-phased poetical lyrics and beats, end up delivering rap, thus rap music was born. It then became a medium of expressing rebellious, vulgar, harsh and sometimes detrimental messages to portray their political militancy and symbol of denial towards oppressive subjugation.


New Edition – Girlfriend, sung by Bobby Brown, a sample of classic puppylove slowjam.

The softer pathway was expressed in a more harmonious, laidback and full of repentance thus, R&B and it’s sub-genre’s such as motown, doo-wop, quietstorm, soul, contemporary R&B and ballads/slowjams was born. Catchy R&Bs are a fusion of gospel and soul, thus the likes of New Jack Swing was born when they realise there was a need to be part of the pop scene at the same time slowly substituting the glory of disco as the official anthem for clubs.

I was more inclined to mushy R&B in those days that I make acts like Aaron Hall, Keith Sweat, Jodeci, Shai, Boyz II Men, New Edition and others a daily treat on my player before exploring to more critically profound genres such as the sub-genres of rap and hiphop, from old skool rap to pop rap, gangsta rap to G-funk, horrorcore to hardcore rap and all the likes.

I find R&B colligate well with my character and mood so well. Is like yin and yang, R&B represents my softer side and rap/hiphop represents my rebellious side that one can instantaneously know what mood I am in at that moment.

If I was asked to choose which R&B is the best, I’d say the 80’s & 90’s where R&B was way innocent, ‘clean’ and genuine back then. Nowadays, R&B are more catchy, groovy and every minute or so the track will be accompanied with a rap loop. The contents are misogynic, anti-social, crude, sometimes pointless and violent, very much like a scenario of leaked influence from gangsta rap’s content polluting a pure R&B tune. Today’s R&B is a response to the demised glory of 80’s disco where it was rooted from New Jack Swing catered strongly for club goers.


Keith Sweat – Twisted, a sultry slowjam with some essence of New Jack Swing.

R&B is a huge thing nowadays as it was the leading genre in almost any nation’s music chart worldwide. It was amazing that a genre that was born as a result of suppression, racial segregation and social deprivation of the African American community was being welcomed, and accepted as a music identity to many, even among non-blacks.

I remembered to have stumbled across some Malaysian dopies who are fans of R&B only because it was huge at present, due to the propagation and overhyping by the mainstream media. When I asked them ‘Who were the forefathers of R&B?’ they answered me in a boasting manner and their reply was – ‘Jay Chow and David Tao’! I LOL-ed and almost bleed off my nose and ass.

Immediately, I withdraw my plans of asking them who is Gerald Levert, New Edition, Bobby Brown, Aaron Hall, Hi-Five, Total, Mint Condition, 2D Extreme, Men At Large, Guy, LSG, Freddie Jackson, Johnny Gill, SWV, TLC, Xscape, Kut Klose etc etc as I have already knew that I will be so disappointed with their wannabe response. Never in my life someone so dumb and fake could claim that R&B was originated from China and Taiwan. Imbecilicly lame!

Oh well, old skool R&B are still definitely the best! Black is beauty, yeh?

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Knight Moves
15 years ago

brother man, I was there too…feel ya man! ain’t no school like ol’skool. really liked your straight up commentary and the videos.