“You could cut the exact same songs with a black female singer that I cut with Ariana, and they would be nowhere as big.”
The comment above was made by Republic Records Executive Wendy Goldstein as she awaits the release of ‘Beauty Behind the Madness’ by her artist The Weeknd.
However, despite enjoying success with the entertainer of Pop and Rhythmic platforms, the industry power player has revealed that she’s anything but happy with the state of R&B music in today’s world.
Her conversation with ‘Billboard‘ below…
When asked to weigh in on contemporary R&B’s struggle to match Hip Hop on a critical and commercial front she shared:
I don’t think the artists are being as innovative as they should be. Even on the hip-hop side, the records have been dumbed down so that very few really smart records get through, like a J. Cole, Kendrick or a Big Sean. But on the singing side, it has been worse. No one has been able to pull up with a defining record that’s a game-changer. That’s what R&B needs right now. Guys that we were hoping were going to be that have been very slow to get out of the box again, like Frank Ocean and Miguel. And it’s partially radio’s fault. They’re not so open to playing [adventurous] things until they’re big somewhere else.
Urban has a fundamental problem trying to find its place, and it absolutely is the fault of the system: You could cut the exact same songs with a black female singer that I cut with Ariana, and they would be nowhere as big. But I also feel that we have to get a little more adventurous in urban. When you think about groups like The Fugees and Outkast — where are those groups today? Where’s that person who has that voice like Lauryn Hill who can be as f–ing grimy and “hood” as possible, but then come out with a song like “Killing Me Softly” that was No. 1 around the world? The only true R&B that’s out there right now, I hate to say it, are legacy things. But kids know no genre-specific boundaries, so you’re getting more hybrid acts like The Weeknd or Janelle Monae, which wouldn’t necessarily sit at just R&B [radio]. At some point, you’re going to see the hybrid things break out.
Unfortunately, the same can be said for the majority of today’s Pop contenders who are just as (forgive us for this) basic but have been able to hide behind hits designed for radio.
Meanwhile, innovative and groundbreaking acts such as Jazmine Sullivan, Kwabs, Lianne La Havas and Dawn Richard are ignored by labels who seem to think audiences are uninterested in soulful and layered artists when those soulful and layered artists are black.
The result? A gang of “urban” singles artists shifting forgettable party anthems doing their part to push the idea that authentic R&B and Hip Hop artists have no place in the mainstream.
Fortunately, numbers moved by the likes of Toni Braxton, Eternal, Tracy Chapman, Lauryn Hill and Seal prove that this simply isn’t true and that it’s the labels and not the music buying public with the problem.