This one was tough. It was hard to make. It’s 5 1/2 hours and covers songs from 1985 to today. And that’s because there is just so much. Soul has always melded and shaped to its time, and these days, it’s kinda difficult to delineate the two! – r&b and “neo-soul” that is. Which is cool too, evolution.
“Old school” is anything soulful that harkens back to another time, is smooth, and speaks of “grown folks business”. So, today, as an 80s baby, my old school is 90s R&B (SWV) and Neo-Soul – which is a modern, fluid take on classic soul and tends to lean on the introspection part more often than the romance part (Erykah Badu). Back in the 70s, you could compare the two sounds with, say, The O’jays “Cry Together” (more soul) & The Isley Brothers “Between The Sheets” (more r&b).
What I personally love about Neo-soul is the jazz, hit-hats, atmosphere, sway, time, space, caution. Solange does this so well on last year’s album When I Get Home. Maxwell does it perfectly on Urban Hang Suite, as does Amel Larrieux on Infinite Possibilities, and then of course holdin’ it down for eternity is Ms. J-I-L-L S-C-O-T-T.
While researching this playlist, I was thrilled to see a new release this year from Syleena Johnson, artist and co-host on the #blackgirlmagic that is Sister Circle Live. It’s a show I hold dear to my heart – they are doing amazing things with the platform! She speaks about the state of R&B and Neo-Soul often on air, and they make a constant effort to bring on beloved Neo-soul artists all delivering bona-fide contributions to the genre as it’s both growing new roots and being gentrified into alt – r&b. With all the new voices out here resourcing the classic elements, though, I’m confident we can keep it healthy and well fed, so we can all be fed. We need it! ☺️ Also did ya’ll peep the Roots Picnic line up this year? Sheesh.
Our latest mix, 00s Alternative, harkens back to moments prior when guitars and literal drums were more of a thing. Ah, the good old days.
In all seriousness, this era was filled with rock bands offering relevant commentary that was often honest, direct, and sometimes difficult to digest. Bands like The White Stripes came on the scene out of nowhere bringing a sound that was completely unique to the time. Clashy. Grimey. Incubus held strong with Morning View (my first rock CD, gifted Christmas of 2001) and, personal favorite political read of the decade, A Crow Left of the Murder. And I still get emotional when I listen to Youth of the Nation by P.O.D.