I feel like when I came across this post of Christina Milian performing her new single with her boyfriend, Lil’ Wayne, I was supposed to chime in with a supportive “Aww.” Instead, I frowned like Jorge Ramos at a Donald Trump presser, bothered because it’s not 2011, thus there’s no reason why Birdman’s estranged pretend son should be on an R&B single. And that got me to thinking about other R&B clichés that need to die a slow, agonizing death.
Rock with me now, I’m about to give you laptop label-head meets rhythm and blues Iyanla Vanzant realness.
No more Lil’ Wayne features.
It’s not that I don’t like Lil’ Wayne; it’s just that I don’t believe he offers anything to an R&B single anymore. Wayne’s last helpful verse was on Kelly Rowland’s “Motivation.” Okay, I’ll give you “Ice,” too, since I feel generous today. Either way, that was a long time ago and just as Lil’ Wayne’s mixtapes have gone sour, the same goes for his guest verses. Until he refocuses, keep him away from your singles, singers. This means you Monica, who didn’t need Wayne’s additions on her new single, “Just Right For Me.”
The same goes for you, August Alsina. The track itself is cool, but Wayne adds nothing here. Surprise, surprise. You could’ve just added two verses and made a complete R&B song. Imagine that.
No more rapper cameos, period.
I needed to single out Lil’ Wayne specifically as he is one of the worst repeat offenders, but generally speaking, it’s about damn time R&B artists stop relying on guest rap verses – which are typically unrelated to the subject of a given song. To be fair to R&B acts, a lot of this has to do with the reality that it’s harder for a pure R&B song to get radio airplay without the boost of a hit-making rapper. I get it, but stop it anyway. Force these radio programmers to support R&B as it should be.
Remember “gangstas” don’t sing midtempo ballads.
Have y’all heard Chris Brown’s new song with French Montana called “Gangsta Way”? If not, consider yourself #blessed. For starters, how hard can you really be over a soft ass beat? Two, you’re an R&B singer, which means you’re not necessarily soft by default, but you needn’t strive for the overcompensation that’s often displayed by rappers.
I get it. R. Kelly is the person who introduced that thuggish aspect to R&B male singers, but that fool also walks around in Zorro masks. Do you want to do that too, singers?
Stop trying to be Michael Jackson.
It’s one thing to be influenced by an artist and “capture a vibe.” It’s another thing to Robin Thicke the King of Pop. Excuse me, “allegedly Robin Thicke the King of Pop.” This also includes style of dance. Come up with your own one-two step, beloveds. Michael’s is taken and likely still slaying at the crossroads.
Cancel your stripper anthems.
When I heard Usher’s “I Don’t Mind” with Juicy J, I thought it was a melodic cry for help. Can we be honest for a second? Who in contemporary music is still judging strippers? Have we not had several years of pro-stripper boo-loving anthems? When was Usher’s song written? 1987? Unfortunately, this song performed better than Usher’s excellent and underappreciated “Good Kisser.” So, I blame y’all. That doesn’t mean the song should be buried in the sands, though.
Try to like women on your records.
R&B singers are supposed to love women, not croon misogyny. Remember who actually buys your records, garbage men with terrible views. Yes, I mean songs like Chris Brown’s “Loyal.” How many times is he going to make that song anyway? I’m talking in terms of both theme and sound. We get it: you distrust women and you have mommy issues.
It’s okay to make R&B without the twist.
I’m at peace with the varying strains of R&B – which have so many ridiculous names that I refuse to repeat in this space – but I will say one thing: IT’S OKAY NOT TO TRY SO HARD TO BE DIFFERENT. YOU CAN JUST SING A REGULAR ASS R&B SONG AND I PROMISE YOU IF IT’S GOOD, WE WILL STILL BUY IT. Yes, I needed to type in all caps. Sometimes you’ve got scream like you’re about to have a dance off with Janet Jackson.
I feel better now that I’ve gotten this out. Now, to quote Dr. Leslie Rosen from The First Wives Club, “Work from love. Grow from love.”