Friday, June 10th, 2005

Mark Anthony Neal Fan Club Alert: The Slow Decline of R&B, Part Two

MAN breaks down Mary J. and R & B in the 90s:

Unlike the civil rights generation, which was often consumed with defending its legitimacy in the face of an all-too-present white gaze, the hip-hop generation rejected the significance of the white gaze, defining the real within the context of black community instead. What is at stake in this quest for the real is the very real possibility of rejection and censure from the community. It’s a product of the apprehensions and ambivalences associated with coming of age in an era where you are free to be whatever. And it was Blige’s vocals — ragged, displaced and aching — that summoned all of these emotions, as she struggled with the demons of betrayal and abuse in her own life. Blige quickly became known as hip-hop’s Aretha Franklin, not so much for her technical proficiency but her ability to speak for a generation, much the way Franklin spoke for the civil rights generation.

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