loooooong days of internet discourse over whether or not R&B music is dead—a conversation spawned largely in part by music mogul Diddy via a series of tweets and Instagram live sessions (more on that later)—Usher, arguably thee King of R&B, has now spoken out on the matter.
The “Bad Habits” singer recently stopped by the Bevelations with Bevy Smith podcast where he said “watch this” and dropped a bevy (ha!) of truth bombs about the aforementioned notion and expressed his feelings towards his mentor Diddy for sparking the flame yet again.
“When I hear people say stuff like ‘What happened to R&B?’ or “R&B is dead,” it’s not. You just don’t understand the basis of it,” Usher explained, according to Vibe. “Matter fact, maybe I need a reminder or an understanding of what it is. How can something come out 20-some odd years ago, and then all of a sudden have a resurgence in a way that people just wanna talk about it, sing it, enjoy it? That’s because it’s classic. That’s ‘Superstar.’ That’s R&B.”
He later added, “So when I do hear people, even like Puff saying ‘R&B is dead,’ he sounds nuts to me. It sounds crazy especially knowing he was a pioneer and beneficiary of it. You know, the source that is R&B created the breath of life that was breathed into hip-hop. There would be no hip-hop if there were not R&B. So it’s blasphemous to hear people say anything—especially hip-hop cats—to say anything about R&B. Like nah, it’s been there. It’s gon’ stay there.”
TALK YO SHIT, USH! Somebody bring out the collection plate so I can slide this man some Ushbucks because HE is PREACHING on a Tuesday.
And while y’all do that, let’s also get into the fact that Diddy started this whole kerfuffle last week, much to the disdain of R&B artists and true R&B fans who immediately hopped online to discredit the Bad Boy Records owner’s assertions.
Since the above initial tweet, he then went on Instagram live with several R&B artists and producers to discuss the topic such as Tory Lanez (umm Ok, sure. I guess), Summer Walker, Kehlani, Jermaine Dupri, Bryan Michael Cox, Mary J. Blige and more.
And while some folks might arguably have missed his real intent behind stirring the R&B pot—which is to help promote his imminent return to the music scene via his forthcoming album—Diddy later clarified that the whole point of the discussion was not to disrespect any current artists but to call more attention to the genre and to hopefully bring more “love, vulnerability, and support” to it.
“It’s been 3 days of the debate…This is the clarity of the message…It’s not disrespect to anybody,” he wrote in one tweet. “This conversation was out of love and me purposely wanting to bring attention to R&B! It was something that I saw the effect of the Hip hop and R&B balance. That balance is honesty and realness when it comes together, melodies, vulnerability and most importantly LOVE!!!”
“This message is that R&B game needs more love, vulnerability, support!!,” he concluded.
Well, he is right about one thing: the artists that are making PHENOMENAL music in that genre do need more support. And if you’d like to lend a helping hand in doing so, here’s a starter list of today’s artists that are making heat right now that you should check out:
Alex Isley, Cleo Sol, SiR, Snoh Aalegra, Lucky Daye, Mac Ayres, Steve Lacy, Victoria Monet, Arin Ray, Ari Lennox, Masego, Ella Mai, H.E.R., Syd, The Internet, Brent Faiyaz, Xavier Omar, Luke James, Ro James, Tank, BJ the Chicago Kid, Anderson. Paak, Jazmine Sullivan, Summer Walker, DVSN, SZA, John Legend, Kehlani—I could go on but I think this is a good place to start.