Lately, I’ve been listening to way more old music than new music. And, by lately, I mean always. These days, however, with apps like Spotify and Pandora, educating yourself on the back catalogs of nearly every artist from any genre is only a click away. So, while there are indeed plenty of new artists coming out who are talented and vying for our ears, there are thousands of older artists who also deserve attention - arguably, more than the new artists.
Here, I’ve laid out the eight reasons why the next time someone asks me who I’ve been listening to lately, my honest answer could potentially be Camp Lo, Jeffrey Osborne and Janet Jackson - all respectable artists with their fair share of acclaim, who I personally had never been enlightened to. Are they relevant? No. Are they talented? Yes and that’s all that matters. Oh, and by old music, I'm talking about material that didn't debut on the Internet. Can you even fathom that?
Walk with me.
More Artists to Choose From
Despite the overwhelming feeling thousands of new artists debut by the minute, there are five times as many old names than new - who have already fought their way into the spotlight with talent and been assimilated by fans. Starting from the prominent names and working on down is easy. Find a rabbit hole and get lost in it.
Just because artists like Led Zeppelin or Luther Vandross have a prominent name and still get major radio spins, doesn’t mean their whole catalogue is being spun. Do research. Find the hidden gems. After all, how often are the radio hits the best songs from current albums?
Hype Over Everything
In regard to the materialization of older tunes, image came second to musical talent. Mainly, because there were less channels for people to vocalize their opinions on whether something was quality or not. Now, artists earning universal conversation can dictate label signings. And, if enough people start talking about something, people end up listening out of curiosity alone - even if the music itself is mediocre.
This one’s obvious. A good percentage of the music we currently listen to is inspired by old styles and songs, if not outright sampling them or using an interpolation. Therefore, many of the new song concepts we’re hearing are recycled. Think Game’s remake of Bone Thugs on “Celebration,” for instance. Or, how about “Blurred Lines” by Alan’s son? Might as well be Marvin on there.
Music Used To Be Much Classier
2 Live Crew will definitely vouch for the fact older music could be offensive, just as much as Ozzy Osbourne would prove stage shows used to get raucous. However, it just seems that these days, every aspect of music has become more boorish.
In Hip-Hop, half of rappers openly insult their audiences regularly. In Pop and R&B, the content is more provocative than ever. In general, major music award shows are clearly lowering their standards and practices for the sake of ratings. Plus, fewer artists are keeping their lyrics positive and empowering. For every Katy Perry “Roar,” there are five tracks like Juicy J “Bounce It” or Britney’s “Work B*tch.”
Yet, we not only except this tasteless turn for the worst, we continue to expect it.
Technology Makes Music Watered Down
Another obvious one. Back in the day, if you wanted to make music, you had to know how to sing or play an instrument. These days, computer programs can make someone who’s musically illiterate in theory a nationally-known producer and turn someone who couldn’t hit a high note to save their life into, well...Future. Do the math.
Genres Less Blurred
Hip-hop is pop. R&B is hip-hop. Pop is everything. Sometimes Chris Brown sings, sometimes Chris Brown raps. Lady Gaga had Twista and Too $hort on her album. Nelly won an award for Country Music award. Drake. The specifics go on and on. The fact is, no genre is confined anymore.
With the business of music manipulating so many artists to make their craft mainstream, way fewer acts are mastering their genre. The flawless MCs are few and far between in the limelight. The truly talented singers make hook-heavy pop records. No longer will you find a Babyface - someone who makes straight R&B ballads that are still crossover pop hits. Even the guys who are completely capable like Miguel and Frank Ocean had a heavy dance lean on their respective successful love song singles (“Adorn” & “Pyramids”).
My Favorite Rappers Are Dead
And so are my favorite singers. And producers. And...well, that’s not completely true. But, damn, sometimes it seems the most talented acts got taken way too soon. Hearing so much AutoTune abuse these days on tracks, it’s hard not to wonder, what would Roger Troutman do?