The Art of Neosoul Essay
The Art of Neosoul
Neo Soul is a genre of music that arose in the 1990s from the experience of R&B/Soul music and is characterized as “bringing freshness to a genre long pronounced dead …” (Phillip Cunningham/Bowling Green State University). As defined by the Stanford Dictionary of Philosophy, “art is modern works that appear to break radically with all traditional art” and this music genre is by definition new and radically different. Considering neo soul in terms of art, I believe that this music is an expression of modern mainstream African American culture, experience, belief, and surely, the root of this ethnicity.
Different and more artistically expressed than soul music it brings great aesthetic value to the music scene. Not just music, but a powerful expression of deep rooted feelings through attention-grabbing and talented artist of our day. Neo-Soul is new and innovative in expressing the common culture of African American life and in its refusal to walk the conventional line. In what the Music Said’ an essay by Mark Anthony Neal, this form of music is ‘post-soul’ and is a combination of rhythm and blues, funk, rap and hip-hop and arose out of resistance to, and often times in opposition to, middle class sensibilities of respectability and norms.
In Soul, the expression seems disdain and rebellion for the normal societal norms, that have been put in place by the government influences such as Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On and Let’s Get it On? two of his most popular pieces where he is in defiance of the current political agenda and abstinence. Neo, meaning ‘new, or ‘Nu’ brought a different vehicle of expression the experiences of the time. Though there is much debate regarding the terms ‘Neo-soul’ or ‘Neo-classical-soul’ has become, in the 1990s and 2000s, more popular. Neo Soul is an extension of a culture that has a voice.
The African American community in the 1990s as ‘church’ and faith become more important to young professional Christian, Neo soul also creeps into the Gospel music with artist such as Lisa McClendon and Leon Timbo. These individuals express a ‘real time’ acceptance and reliance on their God and expression of their faith in contemporary terms. Neo-soul music is one such singularity, which has “reframed the subjectivities” of black people and suggested identities embodied and disembodied, human and post-human. (Weheliye 30) Simply put, it is a genre of music that refocuses the African American art of music.
More aesthetically pleasing I think. The beauty of neo Soul has I believe redefined African American Music as an art form rather than beat for bump and grind, distrust and defiance. Such artist as : Lauryn Hil, India Aria, and Jill Scott, women who have redefined lyric with bold and encouraging expression and melody that beats to the heart of the listener. In Aria’s “Strength, Courage, and Wisdom”, she speaks of positive thoughts to encourage and that these elements are internal, pointing the listener to uplift rather than what can be done in secret.
As well as the song “I Am Not My Hair”, which counteracts bigotry and sterotypes with positive phrases and rhyme. Similarly Jill Scott, with a more rhythmic driving beat in “My Petition”, Scott speaks out against the American government without the hatred that you would usually see in this type of song, through straight, it is not militant – just truthful. Neo Soul music is an adaptation of Soul music as an art form and moves it to a higher degree of listening pleasure. Not timid but definitely bold, but respectful of both the artist and the listener.
Even the presentation of the artist in this genre is an artistic expression of the African American culture. One of India Aria’s latest releases, Testimony Volume 2, Love & Politics says explains this artistic form of getting her point across about poverty and society outlook on those that live in poverty in Ghetto: Now the dictionary says / That the ghetto is a place / of minority, and poverty, and over population.
We list on this earth together, / ain’t no separation. / when you’re looking down, / from outer space. / we’re just a human race and the world is a / ghetto-o-o-o. A clear point, but not so hard on the heart.
Afrofuturism and post-soul possibility in black popular music. Aria, India. Strength and Wisdom. http://www. azlyrics. com/lyrics/strengthandwisdom. html Art and Popular Culture online. http://www. artandpopularculture. com/African_American_music Cunningham, Phillip. “There’s Nothing Really New Under the Sun”: The Fallacy of the Neo-Soul Genre. Journal of Popular Music Studies, Volume 22, Issue 3, Pages https://www.thefreelibrary.com/
University/College: University of Arkansas System
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 1 June 2017
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