Post Valentine's Day Special: Who Do You Love?
A Note About New School Soul
by Breeze Vincinz
In this episode of Soulful Salon, we decided to pit Old School Soul against New School Soul in our “Versus” section whereas each one of us picked one or the other and advocated for their supremacy. In extremely very general terms we considered Old School Soul to be soul music published before… well let’s say… 1985 and New School Soul to be music published after. As you will hear... I was the lone supporter of New School Soul and it’s a debate that I have participated in over a decade now with different people. The reality of it is, Old School Soul will always trump New School Soul by definition… it’s simply got more years, it’s got more history. I can tell you now that as sumptuous of a song Anthony Hamilton may create today, it simply will never be able to recreate the decades of images, smells and touches that come to mind when listening to Eddie Kendricks. The same goes for Nikki Minaj and Millie Jackson, or Alicia Keys and Roberta Flack. Personally, I actually like Anthony, Nikki and Alicia but Eddie, Millie and Roberta are engrained a little too deeply within the collective consciousness of African Americans for them to be trumped by someone without the same amount of battle scars. They’ve gone through the civil rights movements, the deaths of Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, those bipolar radio payola practices, the Women’s’ movement, the Vietnam War, their songs were milestones to experiences in our lives. Nina Simone was one of the more prominent voices of the civil rights movement and Billie Holiday’s rendition of “Strange Fruit” still brings chills to the bone over 80 years later.
With all that said… no. No twenty something performer (living in an America where racial disharmony still exists, but has cracked enough to allow an African American to be its president) is going to be able to eclipse the gravitas of our elders. However, I do think it is our obligation to listen to what they have to say. And this has been the source of a few disharmonious conversations over the years. I constantly hear, “No one can sing like Aretha Franklin. No one can sing like Patti LaBelle. No one can sing like Minnie Riperton.” And the truth is, that’s absolutely right. Personally, I can’t think of another human who could match Aretha Franklin. But that in itself has always been my point. If every time you turn on the radio you expect Aretha Franklin… you’re going to consistently be disappointed. If every time you download a song and expect Luther Vandross, you’re going to be bitter. There is one Aretha. There was only one Luther. They will never be able to be duplicated.
But what we do have is an honest bunch of “youngsters” with some real talent with some real songs that actually touch your soul. They don’t have the accoutrements of celebrity, fortune or history on their side but they are willing and able to pay their dues and to give respect to the music that has warmed our lives for generations. This why I felt obligated to advocate for them; Jill Scott will never be Aretha Franklin, but she will always be one hell of a Jill Scott… and I appreciate her for that. I appreciate all artists of any genre and medium willing to put their stuff out there amidst the detractors who will always put in an effort to emasculate their work with memories of their forefathers and foremothers. And I admit a personal agenda considering the fact that I am pursuing a career in literature standing in the huge shadows of Toni Morrison, Alice Walker and Chuck Palahniuk that I don’t think I will ever be able to step out of. But what I can do, is be one hell of a Breeze Vincinz, and hope people appreciate it.
With that said, I really hope you guys take a listen at some of these selected New School jams with open ears and open hearts and appreciate them for who they are: