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in the late 1990's,
by an entrepreneur in the music
industry named Kendar Massenburg.
A music genre which blends 1970's-style soul,
contemporary R&B with elements of Hip Hop
and infused jazz.
Neo-soul developed as a soul revival movement.
It often de-emphasized straight rapping and
DJ influences, preferring large live bands
performing with lead vocalists
Although the term 'Neo-Soul' came around in the late 90's, the first Neo- Soul artists, or rather the first artists to dabel in the 'Neo Soul style', are said to have emerged in the late 1980's with musicians such as Prince and Tony! Toni! Toné!
Before we look into the major defining artists of Neo Soul we will briefly look into the artists who gave us our first taste, if you will, of the soon-to-be genre of Neo Soul.
This feeling inspired unique creativity
and defined a change in contemporary music.
Neo- Soul inspired a revolutionary feeling.
From the very first neo-soul songs, with its wide range and wide reaching arena, this genre distinguished itself from R&B and Rock & Roll mainly in regards to the fact that its major mediums were both protest songs and love songs upheld by lyrics that directly referenced and grew from the entire spectrum of popular black music, including Rock & Roll, rag-tune and even elements of Country & Western and folk.
Still essential to the sound, Hip Hop grooves
were frequently performed live whilst
reintroducing multi-layered horn harmonies
giving a "church band sound" that had, from
conventional modern Hip Hop, departed and
aligned mostly with soul music of the
Also Known As:
Prince Rogers Nelson
Prince, Alexander Nervermind, The Purple One,Joey Coco and
June 7th, 1958. Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States
Funk, R&B, rock, new wave, Minneapolis sound
pop and synthpop
Vocals, guitar, bass guitar, keyboards, drums,
1976 - present
Warner Bros., Paisley Park, NPG, EMI, Columbia, Arista
Marina Fionnuala Sooknandan
History of Contemporary Music
Teacher: Mr. Stewart Taylor
Trimester 1, 2014
Tony! Toni! Toné
Oakland, California, U.S.
R&B, soul, neo soul, new jack swing
Grass Roots Entertainment Wing
Mercury Records West Wind Artists inc.***
Dwayne Wiggins: Lead Vocals & Guitar
Raphael Saadiq (born Charles Ray Wiggins): Lead Vocals and Bass
Timothy Christian Riley: Drums & Keyboard
Side_members (***) Elijah Baker, Carl Wheeler, Antron Haile, John Jubu Smith, Randy Wiggins and Amar Khalil
The Oakland Trio have proven themselves worthy guardians of the soul and funk tradition, whilst also fusing enough contemporary devices into their music in order to remain in the popular mainstream charts during the late 80's early 90's. Thus proven with their No.1 Hit (obtained straight off the bat) in 1988 with "Little Water".
Early to mid 90's proved successful for Tony! Toni! Toné! with their albums 'The Revival' in 1990, 'Son's of Soul' in 1993, and 'House of Music' in 1996 also being incredibly popular.
Birth Name: Gerald Maxwell Rivera
Born: May 23, 1973.
Brooklyn, New York, United States
Genres: R&B, soul, neo soul, quiet storm, funk, jazz
Instruments: Vocals, piano, guitar, moog synthesizer
Years Active: 1991–2002, 2009-present
Labels: Columbia Records
The Neo Soul Movement continued to grow in the early 1990's with more artists experimenting with the mixing of mutiple genres, often Hip Hop, Soul, R&B and Jazz.
Artists such as Dionne Farris, Groove Theory, Meshell Ndageocello and Tony Rich assisted in this growth with their ablum/song releases.
Commercial breakthroughs of Maxwell's 'Urban Hang Suite' (1996), D'Angelo's "Brown Sugar" (1995), Erykah Badu's 'Baduizm' (1997) and Lauryn Hill's "The Mieducation of Lauryn Hill" (1998) have rightfully been credited with assisting shape and raise the Neo Soul Movement to commercial visibility during the late 90's.
Now for some
of the leading
forces in the
Neo Soul Movement...
the "Minneapolis sound" which
involves a hybrid mixture of
r&b, pop funk, rock and new
wave that has influenced
many other musicians.
The unpronounceable symbol
(later dubbed "Love Symbol #2")
Birth Name: Erica Abi Wright
Born: February 26, 1971. Dallas, Texas, United States
Also Known As: Fat Belly Bella, DJ Low Down, Loretta Brown, Analog Girl in a Digital World, Badoula Oblongata, Apples, Manuela Maria Mexico, Sara Bellum, Annie
Years Active: 1996 - present
Genres: R&B neo soul hip hop
Instruments: Vocals keyboards guitar
drums drum machine
Labels: Kedar Universal Motown
Puppy Love Control Freaq
THE DEBUT RELEASE OF 'BADUIZM' IN 1997 EDURED ENORMOUS SUCCESS, PAVING THE WAY FOR NEW MOTOWN CHIEF, KEDAR MASSENBURG, TO SHIFT A MAJORITY OF THE COMPANY'S OUTPUT TOWARDS THIS NEW STYLE WHICH HE DUBBED NEO SOUL.
"NEO-SOUL IS DEAD"
- Erykah Badu, Underground
Almost self-indulgent, Badu declares the downfall or a young
musical genre which appeared to most as rather premature.
Hardly warranted as D'Angelo's "Brown Sugar", debuting in 1996,
is cited by many music journalists as the beginning of neo-soul
as an independent genre. Many others put the inception of the
genre earlier with Californian trio Tony! Toni! Tone! but
regardless, neo-soul performativity emanates out of the
arising of post-black, post Civil Rights movement in
Badu, D'Angelo and other musicians rejected the naming of Neo-Soul, therefore from the onset, the resistance of classification, the postmodern refusal of definition, distinguished the neo-soul identity.
The declamation that "neo-soul is dead" partakes in a precise re-articulation of her personal philosophy, Baduizm, whilst satiating her Neo-Soul desire for self-definition.
Although Badu's statement conceals her true intent her soulful musical creations still maintains audiovisual significance. By announcing the death of a musical movement that obviously still shapes her cultural production, Badu signifies the phenomenon of merchandising black music style and categorization.
On and On” is Badu's first single track released which won a Grammy for the ‘Best female R&B Vocal performance on her world-wide sucessful album, Baduizm. Through this song Badu is makes a powerful statement on worth, stating that regarless of social class, where you came from, religion or race you can have success and express yourself regardless of what anyone else vocalizes.
as this genre is such a hybrid blend of soul, blues, swing and R&B, just to name a few, many music lovers find that neo-soul continues to represent the clear link to organic, authentic blackness which in turn also provides an aural link to the Civil Rights era and the social movements it categorized.
Experimentally, this genre serves as the principally means to examine critically and emulate politically the fundamental ethnic core of blackness.
Arguably the most popular and critically acclaimed
neo-soul album was Lauryn Hill's multi-Grammy winning
"The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill".
Although some tracks contain a more Hip-Hop based sound,
the records are filled with live musicians, layered harmonies
and thought-provoking messages clearly setting the trend of
fusing R&B, modern Hip Hop and classic soul creating
groundwork for what was to follow in the Neo-Soul genre.
Birth Name: Lauryn Hill
Also known As: Ms. Hill L. Boogie
Born: May 26, 1975
East Orange, New Jersey, U.S.
Genres: R&B, soul, neo-soul, hip hop,
hip-hop soul, reggae fusion
Instruments: Vocals, guitar
Years Active: 1991-present
Labels: Columbia Ruffhouse
'Urban Hang Suite' is Maxwell's debut album
that was released on April 2, 1996, by Columbia Records.
During 1994 -95 at Electric Lady Studios, RPM, Sorcerer, and
Chung King Studios in New York City and CRC Studios
in Chicago Maxwell recorded this album.
Incorporating elements of jazz, funk, smooth soul
and quiet storm, this albums contains a
mellow, groove-based sound.
Maxwell based his own personal experiences
along with a song cycle that focuses on
sexual romance to compose this concept album.
From late 1997 - June 1998 at Tuff Gong Studios in Jamaica, Lauryn Hill recorded her solo record 'The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill'.
The Mis-Education of the Negro book by Carter G. Woodson and The Education of Sonny Carson, a film and autobiographical novel inspired the title of this album.
Artists such as D'Angelo, Carlos Santana, Mary J. Blige and the then-unknown John Legend featured in some of the tracks.
Although Motown Records' Kendar Massenburg
coined the term 'Neo-Soul' purely as a marketing strategy it ended up defining artists that didn't stay fixed in one genre catagory in the 1990's.
It was known that artists such as Erykah Badu, Maxwell and Lauryn Hill, although making their breakthrough during the emergence of the Neo Soul genre, disliked the term Neo-Soul and would disassociate themselves from it predominately for the belief that:
It implies that Soul music has died
It is a shallow marketing tool
They did not wish to be categorized
"...Lot people don't like the term, because they don't want this music to be looked at as a genre. Because, when you classify music, it becomes a fad, which tends to go away. But soul music is soul music. There's nothing really new under the sun. But, in terms of marketing today, there's the need to categorize music for consumers so they know what they're getting. So, for lack of a different term, I coined neo-soul."
- kENDAR mASSENBURG
Misunderstood and mis-marketed are two words that many critics in the music industry use to describe Neo-Soul. It is argued that perhaps the artists themselves didn't fully understand what the genre meant to them or maybe the consumer public wasn't ready for the musical distinction it provided.
Neo-Soul is a culmination of its predecessors.
Without the clear influences of 20th century
groove music, R&B, jazz and of course, Soul,
the genre of Neo-Soul would have most likely
not have emerged in the music scene at all.
Lyrics of Neo-Soul records were greatly influenced by the politics and cultural history of the times, and became a vehicle for expression of many things including urban issues, gender issues, class instability to name a few.
Aretha Franklin and Nina Simone had an enormous impact on Neo-Soul singers/song writers, particularly on Neo-Soul sisters.
Both classic soul and Neo-Soul brought political protest and social critique to the four, and Aretha and Nina were at the female helm of the 'Neo-Soul Sisterhood', providing female artists with lyrical, musical and political models to follow.
R&B, Funk, Rap and Hip-Hop, black popular
music at the time often presented itself
in a manner that was deliberately in
opposition to the 'sensibilities' of the
middle class at the time.
(All Music 2014)
(All Music 2014)
(Audio Sparx 2014)
(Music Answers 2014)
(All Music 2014)
(All Music 2014)
(Rate your music 2013)
All Music 2014, Contemporary R&B: Neo-Soul,
Audio Sparx 2014, Neo-Soul,
Guyhto, A 2006, What is Neo-Soul, viewed 22 May 2014,
Holsey, S 2010, Neo-Soul: The Complete Story, viewed 22 May 2014,
Kernodle, T 2010, Encyclopedia of African American Music, 3rd edn, Greenwood.
Laird, R 2009, Maxwell and the Soul of Neo-Soul, viewed 22 May 2014,
Music Answers 2014, The Story of Neo-Soul Music, viewed 22 May 2014,
Nero, ME 2014, What is Neo-Soul?, viewed 22 May 2014,
Ofori-Atta, A 2012, Is It a Wrap for Neo-Soul?, viewed 22 May 2014,
Rabaka, R 2013, The Hip Hop Movement: From R&B and the Civil Rights Movement to Rap and the Hip Hop Generation, Lexington.
Rate your music 2013, Neo-Soul, viewed 20 May 2014,
Sebongkah, M 2010, All 'bout Neo-SouL, viewed 21 May 2014,
Watrous, L 2007, Music and Its Impact on American Society, viewed 21 May 2014,
Whaley, D-E 2002, The Neo-Soul Vibe and the Post-Modern Aesthetic: Black Popular Music and Culture for the Soul Babies of History, Routledge, New York.
MS. LAURYN HILL