R&B Nostalgia


Surf the nooks and crannies of YouTube and SoundCloud, and you’ll find plenty of homage to vintage contemporary R&B – that golden period in the late 80s and 90s when the urban music industry embraced technology, struggled to escape hip-hop’s long shadow, and forged a sound of its own. Thanks to copyright issues, those viral covers usually don’t make it past the blogosphere. But a few examples of this nascent trend can be found on retail R&B releases, like Sebastian Mikael’s “Last Night” and its thinly-veiled homage to Al B Sure’s “Nite and Day,” Anthony Lewis’ version of Soul For Real’s “Candy Rain,” Trey Songz’ use of Teena Marie’s “Ooh La La La” chorus for “Na Na,” and Beyoncé’s construction of “1+1” around the opening medley of Boyz II Men’s “Uhh Ahh.” Kendrick Lamar’s “Poetic Justice” is a rap song, but its faithfulness to Janet Jackson’s movie and her “Any Time, Any Place” seems appropriate here. So does Netta Brielle’s swipe of the sung chorus from Oakland rap group 3 X Krazy’s “Keep It on the Real” for “3XKrazy.” All are evidence of a throwback movement that’s poised to grow in the years to come.


  • Beyoncé, “1+1”
  • AlunaGeorge, “This Is How We Do It”
  • Trey Songz, “Na Na”
  • Netta Brielle, “3 X Krazy”
  • Ciara, “Body Party”
  • Sebastian Mikael, “Last Night”
  • Anthony Lewis, “Candy Rain”
  • Kendrick Lamar, “Poetic Justice”
  • Marsha Ambrosius, “Stronger”
  • The Weeknd, “DD”
  • Robin Thicke, “Exhale (Shoop Shoop)”

(Rhapsody – July 25, 2014)

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