Neo-Soul is like butter.
I have an affinity for music that’s smooth like that. It’s the type that has you unknowingly swaying to the beat. Any music that makes you sway is pure to the core; it knows the art of finesse. It makes the marriage of ethereal vocals with raw instrumentation that’s so unbelievably authentic. It’s rare that I find neo-soul music that sounds mass-produced or studio-masterminded. It just sounds real.
This type of music reminds me of my mom. She always had her finger on the pulse of what was poppin’ when it came to soul music. She still does. But this era, in particular, the late 90s/early 2000s, produced music that I think touched my mom deeply. It’s the type that she’ll blast in the car and sing along to like it dropped yesterday.
Artists like Raheem DeVaughn, India Arie, Jill Scott, and Bilal really captivated soul as a whole and left a footprint of influence on the R&B world to this day. I know I hear it in some of my favorite artists of the now like Frank Ocean, SZA, and Solange. Some people may call it “alternative R&B”, but to me, it sounds like a neo-neo soul. I figure that’s not as catchy of a name though.
Neo-Soul stands the test of time. There are many different songs these days that are very much one-hit wonders, or even less than that thanks to how quickly we indulge media. (Can you remember some of the songs that have gotten popular over Vines? Six-second vines?) It’s rare that you find a song that you know you’ll be listening to a year from now, much less ten years from now. But, neo-soul has that forever music, ya know? The type of music that you’ll lecture your kids about and let them know “You don’t know nothin’ about this right here.”
This music makes you feel something. Trust, I love a good mindless trap anthem just as much as the rest of them. I was just head-bobbing and dapping along to Gucci’s I Get the Bag earlier today. But sometimes I just want to live in a real, authentic emotion and just sit in it for a while. To be able to hear your inner thoughts in the music that someone else wrote is a beautiful thing. That level of connection is one of the reasons that I love music as a whole. But, this has happened countless times that I listened to neo-soul music.
If I ever have the opportunity to make a time capsule I’ll definitely put a copy of Erykah Badu’s Love Of My Life up in there. It’s something that the people of 2117 need to here. I just hope they still have CD players.
What’re some of your favorite neo-soul songs of the past and present? Heard any new artists you want to put me onto? Make sure to leave it all in the comments’ section below.