“I feel like the essence of what it is to be an artist has been lost ... The work ethic of some of these younger artists that I'm coming across is embarrassing.”
In a recent interview with AOL, singer-songwriter Ne-yo called out some fellow R&B artists. The 30-year-old entertainer, who recently dropped his 5th studio album, R.E.D. on the 6th, explained that artists today have it easier with the use of shortcuts like Youtube and autotune.
The smooth-talking crooner discussed how he has a great appreciation for classic R&B artists like Marvin Gaye who he described he would love to play in a movie if given the opportunity.
“I think Marvin Gaye's story is incredible. I got the opportunity to sit down with Barry Gordy not too long ago and just talk to him about what it was like back in those days. Marvin Gaye was a drummer. He wasn't even an artist, he was the drummer for everybody else and then they decided to give him a shot. I just feel like his story is really incredible.”-Neyo
Growing up, I was exposed to such classic acts. I could sing along to pretty much any Motown song. I now realize how these great artists, from Marvin Gaye to Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson, have been so crucial to the development and recognition of R&B as a genre for the real true artists.
An element of that artistry has been lost with a lot of today's artists. (I’m starting to sound like my father!) An average voice can be covered with auto-tune and a bangin’ beat that you can dance to. Mediocre writing is no longer an issue. You can hire a writer, or 3, to handle that for you. A lot of artists aren’t producing their own music like they used to either.
But this isn’t to say that musicians now, aren’t working as hard as they used to back in the day. As the style of music is changing, every track doesn't need a singer who can belt out every note or background tracks with live bands. With more and more people trying to make it into the business, I have all the more respect for those grinding 2 times as hard so that they can stand out. Youtube and mixtapes have allowed for some of today’s biggest artists to get where they are (Justin Bieber, J. Cole, Drake, etc.), so Youtube's shining stars shouldn't be thought of as taking the easy way out. It's becoming more and more difficult to stand out, so I wouldn't discredit those getting it how they can.
Ultimately, I think we should pay homage to those who came before us in this industry and paved the way for these young artists. Take a minute to appreciate them for their amazing artistry, their raw and natural singing capabilities, songwriting skills and unique and creative production.
Ne-yo is right to a certain extent. Yes, some artists aren’t what they once were, but that isn’t to discredit them and their dedication. A lot of the young people today are far different than the artists of the Motown era, but they’re still artists nonetheless. The essence of artistry hasn’t been lost. It’s evolved.
Hats off to Ne-yo for staying true to this multi-faceted, classic, Marvin Gaye-style artistry. Make sure you go out and cop his R.E.D. album to hear it in full effect.
What do you think about artists today in comparison to those back in the day?
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