Soul, man it’s what drives music as a whole. As with all things, music adapts to what’s current, already going on. In recent years, the concept of the genre has transformed into whatever a specific artist identifies with, whether that’s the backing tracks, lyrics or melodies, soul has become a much more approachable genre. Neo-soul, a sub-genre launched in the mid-‘90s, is influenced by funk, punk, jazz and hip hop, moving away from its musical counterpart, R&B. Nearly 30 years later, “neo” isn’t so new anymore, but even still, it seems like alternative R&B artists such as Noname, Masego and Smino are continuing to shift towards the neo soul genre.
Soul has also embedded itself into this week’s tracks, as in a release from Adrian Younge, who speaks on the state of the treatment of Black men in this country. In the same vein, Tobe Nwigwe expresses his thoughts on the same topic and creates a very funky hip hop track that includes pop-culture references and hard-hitting statements.
Going back to our roots has always been part of what soul is about, and gospel singer Evvie McKinney puts emphasis on her southern roots in her latest track, allowing listeners to catch a glimpse into how soul music is rooted in Black religious practices. Cautious Clay quite literally goes back into his roots but pulls out the funkier side of the genre, while Leon Bridges—who’s been about that soul life since the beginning—gives us a different perspective with a gospel collaboration with Keite Young.
Soul has been around for a while, and while it may evolve, it’s clearly not going anywhere, especially if artists like this continue to do it justice in all the best ways.