…90’s Music is the best we’ve done in this generation.
Let’s face it, you can go back and look at all of the major urban releases of the past few years and hear some sort of tribute or echoing of production that was the signature of the 1990’s. Beyonce’s “Love On Top“, or “Schoolin’ Life” (both from her best album, “4”), Mark Ronson & Bruno Mars’ “Uptown Funk“, Rihanna’s “Kiss It Better“, Ariana Grande’s “The Way” and “Baby I“, Drake’s “Best I Ever Had“, The Weeknd’s “I Can’t Feel My Face” (his biggest hit to date) and “I Feel It Coming” (his most recent single), anything by Chromeo, Adele’s “Rolling In The Deep“, Eminem’s “Infinite” and countless others. We’re seeing a resurgence of 90’s acts like After 7, Az Yet, Babyface, and most recently, Bell Biv Devoe performed their smash hit, “Poison” live at the White House for President Barack Obama’s farewell celebration.
I’ve lived through every musical decade since the 80’s. And the 80’s influence is still present in a lot of music, but, is it me, or is it that the 90’s groove and feeling STILL makes hits? The power of the 80’s is strong, but based on the caliber of the names above who have current or past smashes with elements that speak to the decade AFTER the 80’s, I would say that now it’s fair to say that the decade of too-much-hair-spray, pastels and neon everything has given way to the one that told us that baggy is best, and to wear our clothes backwards while putting band-aids on our faces where there was no injury whatsoever.
1988 marked the beginning of the Urban Renaissance (prior to this there was no “black” radio outside of major American urban centres, just white radio that sometimes played some Michael, Whitney and Lionel — when Rhythm & Blues was the literal description of the genre, not what it is now). Producers, Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds, & LA Reid
I have been telling people for years that THIS is where the production of music got turnt up. Everything after, pales in comparison. Please, someone, …anyone, …define the sound of the 2000’s for me. No? Nothing? How bout the sound of the 2010’s? Kesha? Pitbull? Is that even music? Or just warbling and shouting about this party that won’t end?
Deep down, I know you feel me. A lot of artists get it too. Don’t believe me, ask Katy Perry about “Last Friday Night“. There was something about the music of this decade that just…. got it right. This is why I think a lot of artists “throwback” to that sound. But I hate the term “throwback”, because, consider this: What if we DID get it right?
Artists & producers, when they create, are looking to capture that ultimate combination of elements to create the greatest song or album of all time. What if the 90’s was the closest we ever came to making the most aesthetically pleasing records of all time? Would we call it a “Throwback”, which in my opinion is just a term coined by the execs at the labels to keep product “new” and flowing off the shelves, without consideration of whether it is BETTER than previous releases or not — just different.
A lot of current artists dabble in that sound for a single or two. But Bruno Mars has FINALLY created an entire body of work based on it. He did it. 24K Magic is amazing. Buy it, listen to it, and be “thrown back” to a time where melody, harmony, lyrics AND production mattered, and be brought into the now at the same time. This is not a concept album or an homage album (although some will have you believe it is). It is actually just a well-constructed album that should not allow the label to use words like “dated” or “throwback” to define it. It’s a movement back towards the quality of production that existed in a time when GOOD urban music claimed it’s spot in the top 100, and everything just seemed better. My only complaint about 24K Magic is that it is too short (just 9 AMAZING tracks). I have a feeling, though, that this is just how Bruno wanted it, …to keep us wanting more. To make us finally admit that we still need 90s flavored music. Here’s to hoping that a second release comes in 2017 as he embarks on his tour that I hope to get to see personally after I find my old pinky ring.