Robyn Crawford had the right to speak about her relationship with Whitney Houston

Staff Writer: Jordan Sheppard

“A Song for You: My Life with Whitney Houston” is the title of Robyn Crawford’s memoir, released last month detailing her alleged intimate relationship with Grammy Award-winning singer Whitney Houston.

“I never envisioned speaking publicly about my life, and then I asked myself the question[s]: What would Whitney want? Would she understand you know the time is now?” Crawford said in an interview with NBC’s Today show.

Houston died in 2012.

For decades, there had been speculation the two women, who were once close friends, had a relationship with each other.

In a 2013 interview with Oprah Winfrey, Houston’s mother, Cissy Houston, when asked about her feelings on the two potentially being involved in a relationship, did not hesitate to share her true thoughts.

“Not at all,” Cissy Houston said when asked if she would have condoned her daughter and Crawford having a relationship, adding that she would have been bothered.

In her Today show interview, Crawford spoke about how her intimate relationship with Whitney Houston ended when the singer was getting to record her first album.

“She said I don’t believe that we should be physical anymore,” Crawford said. “The music business was a world that we were learning, and we didn’t want anything to interfere with where she was going.”

After her interview, many critics, including many of Houston’s fans, began to attack Crawford, accusing her of trying to defame the singer’s character, destroy her legacy and wanting her 15 minutes of fame.

Crawford spoke highly of Whitney Houston in all her interviews and in her book, never once saying anything negative. So why are people upset?

“I think the only reason there’s backlash is because of homophobia,” Hampton University sophomore Rhyann Sampson said.

Speaking about the dead becomes a touchy subject, since the person cannot defend themselves.

 “It’s sad that people would rather hear about her being in a very toxic, abusive relationship than realize the fact that she was happy, and who she was happy was with a woman,” HU sophomore Tynesha Smith said.

Whitney’s end was tragic, and there were many moments during her life in which she was not in a good place, and the one time she was, people are trying to erase that moment from her legacy.

Crawford for years had to hold in this secret while people spoke badly about her. Now she felt it was her time to speak, and she had the right to speak out about their relationship.

The question should not be why did Robyn speak out about Whitney Houston, it should be, why are you upset that she did?

She also has the right to speak because she knew who the real Whitney was. Everyone else knew Whitney as the artist. Robyn knew Whitney as Whitney and loved her for her.

Queen & Slim complicated and controversial

Staff Writer: Lindsay Keener

Editor’s note: This contains spoilers.

 Striking in its delivery, the 2019 film Queen & Slim, written by Lena Waithe, contains fast-paced drama that resonates with many black people who understand their complicated relationship with America and the police force. 

Since its debut, the film has garnered attention for its controversial scenes. Most notably, the end.

Torn apart by the single shred of a bullet, the deaths of Queen and Slim were as gut-wrenching as they were heartbreaking. The ultimate ending to this full-length motion picture, the stand-off between the police and the wanted couple, came as a reminder of America’s destructive patterns.

One Hampton University senior is weighed down by the plight of being black in today’s society. 

“As black people, we feel our mortality every day,” HU senior Michyah Thomas said. “Personally, I’m tired of seeing black folk dying on screen at the hands of violent systems. We watch black folk get killed by police on the news and social media all the time. It’s not needed in a space where we’re seeking entertainment. It’s like profiting off of everyday black pain.” 

While I am a fan of art imitating life, the predictability of Queen & Slim left a bad taste in my mouth as it did with Thomas. Far too often, we see films of police brutality, domestic violence and injustice, but rarely are these films so jarring and exploratory that they inspire a genre of their own. 

For those who felt slighted by the ending of the film, many were left with a number of unanswered questions. Is it not enough for a black couple to find passionate and breathtaking love? Does a black person have to lose their ability to breathe in a movie for it to be a jaw-dropping experience? 

The movie had less of an emotional impact on some than others. 

“I didn’t feel a strong connection to either of them by the end of the film,” HU senior Randall Williams said. “They were never going to make it to Cuba. It was a matter of: How much can you attach a viewer to the movie before you evidently let them down? It didn’t happen for me, but for the majority of people, it did.”

Another HU senior Tyla Barnes had another perspective.

“They could have improved on the script,” she said. “They had very compelling visuals, and the script was OK, but there were a lot of unnecessary scenes that were really repetitive to me.”

Emotional turmoil was a factor for one Hampton University student shocked by the artistic depiction of impressionable adolescents impacted by police brutality. 

“The scene involving the teenager and the black cop was quite graphic; I really wasn’t expecting him to shoot because it was a black cop that was trying to help him,” HU political science major Aman Tune said. “The surprised look on the cop’s face broke my heart entirely. It hurt that the teen’s emotions were so high that he felt he couldn’t trust any cop at all, to the point where he killed one.”

Some exited the theater feeling unfulfilled by the picture.

“I think the characters could have been developed more by going through more,” Williams said. “There was a lot of what I would call false tension in the film. Being on the run, especially after killing a cop as an African-American, feels like it’d be a little bit more hectic. I’m not knocking the writers, it’s just something that I would’ve liked to see more of.”

An intense and thought-provoking picture, Queen & Slim was sure to make an impression on its audience. Unfortunately, to some, that impression was not good at all.

Movie review: Don’t miss Queen & Slim

Alton Worley II | Staff Writer

Screen Shot 2019-11-15 at 1.44.27 PM

Photo Credit: Unsplash User Dmjdenise

African-American films in recent years have made their mark in Hollywood, from Jordan Peele’s Get Out to Us, these movies have shaken up society and started a conversation.

Queen & Slim, from the minds of Emmy Award winner Lena Waithe and Grammy Award winner Melina Matsoukas, is no different.

According to queenandslim.com: “While on a forgettable first date together in Ohio, a black man (Daniel Kaluuya of Get Out) and a black woman (Jodie Turner-Smith, in her first starring feature-film role), are pulled over for a minor traffic infraction. The situation escalates, with sudden and tragic results, when the man kills the police officer in self-defense.”

The movie website’s description continues: “Terrified and in fear for their lives, the man, a retail employee, and the woman, a criminal defense lawyer, are forced to go on the run. But the incident is captured on video and goes viral, and the couple unwittingly becomes a symbol of trauma, terror, grief, and pain for people across the country. As they drive, these two unlikely fugitives will discover themselves and each other in the direst and desperate of circumstances and will forge a deep and powerful love that will reveal their shared humanity and shape the rest of their lives.”

While this movie is fiction, the realism behind it is something that every African-American can understand.

“This movie tells a story that could happen to any one of us,” said Nia Sankofa, a Hampton University marketing major from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

“Yes, the story was fake, but by the way it was told, it might as well have been true.”

In terms of genre, this movie was greedy, but not in the way you would think. Queen & Slim managed to balance multiple genres from action-adventure to romance then drama with sub-genres suspense, thriller and comedy to support the movie in terms of substance.

“It was an outstanding piece of cinema,” said Shawn Smith, an HU accounting major from Prince George’s County, Maryland.

Filmmakers Waithe and Matsoukas did an excellent job handling this story, a story of two people who are practically strangers being thrust into what seems to be an unavoidable situation for a black man in the U.S.

This film does a great job showing the difference between the point of view of the main characters, Queen and Slim, who have to live their life on the run and the perspective of the people they’ve inspired.

The audience gets a pretty good feel of the main character’s personalities within the first few minutes of the movie since viewers meet Queen and Slim as they first meet each other. There was no significant “supporting cast” aside from Bokeem Woodbine’s outstanding performance as Uncle Earl, which provided comedic relief and much-needed character development into the closed-off character of Queen.

“The movie had me on the edge of my seat the entire time,” said Auburn Chandler, an HU computer science major from Atlanta.

Queen & Slim is a movie that will be talked about for years, as it provides an answer to a what-if scenario. Waithe and Matsoukas manage to answer this question so vividly and realistically, one could think it was based on a true story. From the script to the cinematography, this movie is nothing less than a masterpiece, and not seeing it would be a mistake.

Queen & Slim will be in theaters Nov. 27.

Influencer marketing is taking over the fashion industry

Carlie Beard | Arts and Entertainment Editor

Social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook have created a space for people who are referred to as “influencers.”

An influencer is a term used to describe someone who can have an effect or powerful impact on other people. Influencers can range from high-profile celebrities to an average person who has thousands of followers on Instagram. Companies and brands take full advantage of this media exposure and use influencers to market their product to potential customers.

According to bigcommerce.com, “Influencer marketing is when companies partner with influencers in order to increase brand awareness or conversions among a specific target audience.”

The fashion industry specifically has used social media influencers to increase their brand exposure. For example, a famous person who has an Instagram profile could tag in their photo where they got their shoes from, and all their followers can tap that tag and instantly go to the brand’s page and see their product. This type of marketing does several things for brands, such as bringing in new customers, maintaining customer retention and keeping their brand relevant.

Fashion brands also hire influencers to be “brand ambassadors,” who are required to make several posts about the brand’s products for a certain time period. On the other hand, an influencer also can be contacted to just make one post without having the same commitment as the brand ambassadors.

“I believe that influencer marketing has changed the fashion industry in both a positive and negative way,” said Morgan Burns, a University of Memphis student and former fashion intern at Harlem’s

Fashion Row. “Positively, it makes it easier for brands to sell their product because of an influencer and [brands don’t] have to pay as much, if anything at all, for advertisement. On the negative end, it becomes so easy for companies to make knock-off versions of high-end brands.”

Another portion of fashion that is growing fast is “fast fashion.” Fast fashion can be considered stores that create trendy, affordable pieces at a fast rate. A large fast fashion retailer is online fashion brand Fashion Nova.

The trendy brand has been criticized for creating pieces of clothing immediately after a celebrity or influencer has worn the outfit. For example, in February 2019, Kim. Kardashian wore a Thierry Mugler dress, and one day later, Fashion Nova had a replica of the dress available on their site. This has continued to be a problem because they continue to re-create and steal designs away from designers who dedicated time and effort to create a concept or style.

Fashion Nova is also a retailer that benefits from influencer marketing. Fashion Nova has marketed itself to its more than 16.7 million followers on Instagram through influencers and what some call “Instagram models.” Fashion Nova was the first brand to tap into the market of using influencers on social media and uses personalities that range from the average woman to A-list celebrities such as Cardi B.

“Once the influencer marketing trend fades away, it’s going to be harder for the fashion industry to figure out how to stay modern,” said Armani Mines, owner of 3218, a brand that works to preserve the history of fashion.

Redefining homophobia

Marques Anderson | Staff Writer

Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy, in a 2012 interview with the Baptist Press, said: “We are very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit. … We know that it might not be popular with everyone, but thank the Lord, we live in a country where we can share our values and operate on biblical principles.”

Since then, controversies over these and similar words and actions have continued, more recently in the form of analyzing the company’s donations. Critics have claimed that Chick-fil-A’s donations to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) and the Salvation Army, to name a couple, are in pursuit of pushing an exclusive, homophobic agenda.

The underlying issue I see with this situation is that those critics refuse to recognize the validity behind the purposes of those supported organizations and, thus, Chick-fil-A.

FCA, according to its website, is dedicated to unite “two passions – faith and sports – to impact the world for Jesus Christ.” The Salvation Army, according to its website, has a mission “to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and meet human needs in His name without discrimination.”

While some of the members of these organizations may disagree with another person’s lifestyle does not indicate that those members hate people with whom they may disagree. This is a fact that some people refuse to see.

Overall, I believe that there is a difference between having a reason to disagree with someone about their lifestyle and hating the people themselves because of their lifestyle. With that, I say that homophobia should be defined as, or similarly to, an illogical hatred for homosexuality.

Other Hampton University students agree that the term homophobia should imply hate rather than disagreement.

Nyasia Parks, a first-year political science major at HU, defines homophobia as “an irrational prejudice against those who love members of their own sex.”

I think the choice of words here is important: “Irrational” is defined as “not logical or reasonable” and “prejudice” as “preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience.”

This is a rather solid definition. No one should create opinions about people whom they have not met nor know anything about, without any concrete reasons or logic to do so.

Xander Roper, a freshman in computer science, said: “Homophobia is the fear of homosexuality. However, most people use the term in regards [to] intolerance.”

This is a more denotative definition, using the literal meanings of the prefix and suffix. The word “intolerance” is interesting here. It is defined as “unwillingness to accept views, beliefs or behavior that differ from one’s own.”

This definition is also applicable to what we are examining. Someone who refuses to change, or at least reconsider the validity of their beliefs, when presented with opposing reasoning, is one who prevents any discourse and any progression of facts, policies or discoveries.

Nevertheless, it is important for anyone who points out someone’s intellectual stubbornness to be sure they, themselves, are open to change.

“I think homophobia is the active discrimination against those who prefer other genders,” said Mikayla Roberts, a freshman in journalism. “For example, a person may have homophobic tendencies like making jokes or may display it on a regular basis by stating that that is not who they are.”

Discrimination and verbal violence have no place in healthy disagreements. I strongly believe in, and have seen, peaceful discussions by people with differing opinions about homosexuality.

Whether it be sexual, racial, religious or other, the promotion of diversity is quite obviously on the rise.

Why Kanye West is a genius

Miles Richardson | Staff Writer

A few weeks ago, Kanye West took the world by storm by releasing his new rap album “Jesus Is King.”

Now, many of us have formed new opinions of Kanye, and most of them haven’t been very pleasant. This is mainly due to his antics over the past year: proclaiming his love for Donald Trump, wearing “Make America Great Again” hats and going public on TMZ stating that slavery was a choice.

In light of these events, many rumors began to circulate about Kanye’s mental health. He was said to have “gone crazy” by several media outlets and personalities, and was considered canceled by many celebrities and hip-hop fans.

He later announced to the world that he had been struggling with bipolar disorder and was planning on stepping away from politics in order to focus on improving himself and being creative. At this point, Kanye had seemed to hit rock bottom.

The once world-renowned and respected rap icon had been reduced to a mere laughingstock, his face plastered on memes all over social media.

Nevertheless, Kanye arose from the ashes. After a near full year of being irrelevant in the music industry, Kanye began to ring bells with the release of Jesus Is King, his new Christian rap album.

This can be described as nothing short of a brilliant PR move by West.

Furthermore, as Americans, we all love a good comeback story, and by executing his master marketing plan, this is exactly what Kanye has given us.

Another thing about Americans is that we love our religion; the majority of the United States identifies as Christian, and with this being the case, we have an inherent desire to want to be seen by our peers as God-fearing and righteous.

No matter how you feel about the album itself, the actions that led up to it or the mysteriously convenient timing of its release, the odds are you won’t have anything too negative to say about an album named after Jesus Christ.

After all, nobody wants to be at the receiving end of the kind of public criticism that Kanye faced. If anyone was to voice an opposing opinion to Kanye’s album, this is exactly the kind of scrutiny they would be putting themselves at risk of enduring.

By associating himself with Christ, Kanye has forced the public to accept him back with open arms. He has pulverized people across the world by forcing them to have an opinion on his newfound stance, and to most people, there is only one clear right opinion to have: an agreeable one.

Aaliyah Jackson, a freshman theatre major, shared how she felt about Kanye naming his album Jesus Is King.

“That’s cool,” she said. “He’s converting his life to Jesus. Hopefully it’s not a publicity stunt. But even if it is, he’s getting more people into Gospel music, and that’s cool.”

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if even a fraction of the people who’ve heard about this album view it as a publicity stunt, because most of them, when faced with the question of whether they support it or not, will conform to the majority perspective.

Apollo McGlone, a freshman computer science major, held a similar viewpoint.

“With Jesus Is King, Kanye took a complete 360 with his music,” McGlone said. “Instead of rapping about being a god, he turned to rapping about being a man of God. Production was the same.”

This outlook reflects the attitudes of the thousands of people across the country who have been attending Kanye’s Sunday Services to celebrate him for being an upstanding follower of Christ, or at least for broadcasting this message to the world.

These Hampton University students are proof that Kanye’s aim was achieved, which was to force people back onto his side by giving them a message they can’t dispute.

Through the use of strategic marketing, Kanye has resurrected his career by leveraging the public’s belief in the resurrection of Jesus.

The Facebook effect

Ryland Staples | Staff Writer

tim-bennett-OwvRB-M3GwE-unsplashPhoto Credit: Unsplash User Tim Bennett

Facebook has been a social media giant for over a decade. It’s the online forum where people go to share pictures of their family vacations with their friends, talk about that crazy game from last night and share ideas.

However, Facebook has been in the hot seat since co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s interrogation on Capitol Hill. He is defending Facebook’s choice to not fact check the political advertisements it has on its platform.

According to the New York Times, “the social network rejected a request from Mr. [Joe] Biden’s presidential campaign to take [the ad] down, foreshadowing a continuing fight over misinformation on the service during the 2020 election as well as the impeachment inquiry into President Trump.”

The publication continued, explaining that Facebook explained “in a letter to the Biden campaign, that the ad did not violate the company’s policies.” Facebook stated that false statements and misleading content in these advertisements also were an integral part to the political conversation.

Knowing that misleading and even flat-out wrong information is on your platform and letting it circulate through users’ timelines is adding to the spread of disinformation. With the 2016 election not that far behind us, one would think Facebook would try to make sure that only facts are shared and not “fake news,” but that’s not how it is.

Facebook has made it a point to not seem partisan. Enforcing fact-checks on political advertisements would go against “freedom of speech.”

Even some Facebook employees don’t agree with company policies. Employees released a letter addressed to Zuckerberg, saying: “We’re reaching out to you, the leaders of this company, because we’re worried, we’re on track to undo the great strides our product teams have made in integrity over the last two years. We work here because we care, because we know that even our smallest choices impact communities at an astounding scale. We want to raise our concerns before it’s too late.”

Even after an outcry from their own employees, Facebook still seems to be standing firm on its decision not to fact-check political advertisements.

Facebook spokesperson Bertie Thompson said, “Facebook’s culture is built on openness, so we appreciate our employees voicing their thoughts on this important topic, we remain committed to not censoring political speech, and will continue exploring additional steps we can take to bring increased transparency to political ads.”

With Facebook facing flak from seemingly all sides, Twitter officials have made it a point not to follow Facebook’s actions. Twitter banned all political advertisements on its website. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey made his intentions clear in a series of tweets, tweeting, “We believe political message reach should be earned, not bought.”

I understand that being able to let people know what your campaign stands for is an important part of running for office of any kind.

However, it is also important to speak factually. The spread of disinformation is one reason why we’re where we are now.

Films about slavery: Can’t part with them, won’t get acknowledged without them

Lindsay Keener | Staff Writer

In a world full of controversial issues and sensitive topics, films on slavery tend to garner negative attention from its audiences.

With criticisms spanning from an absence of historical facts to the excessive brutality shown on screen, slave movies and their importance are continually being called into question by audiences alike.

Following the release of “Harriet,” a film based on the inspiring life of the American freedom fighter Harriet Tubman, moviegoers raved and ranted about the debut of another motion picture on slavery. This response isn’t exclusive to “Harriet”; the critique ranges to various films with a focus on the torture Blacks felt for centuries.

Hampton University senior Destiny Woosley, has a complicated relationship with slave movies.

“I believe that it is important for the film industry to create films based on black revolutionaries, such as ‘Birth of a Nation’ and ‘Harriet,’” Woosley said. “I do not, however, believe that it is as important to create films based solely on the enslavement of black people. Though this may aid in white guilt, it can simultaneously affect black people in a negative way.”

Similar to other media outlets, the film industry has gotten its share of criticism over a lack of diversity and inclusion in movies. In regard to slave movies, a lot of the outrage comes from those who want to be represented in films that don’t showcase the torture blacks faced during slavery.

Senior Elijah Banks is of the opinion that the reason behind why the film is being made is what matters most.

“I believe most black people have issues with these movies because of where the intent comes from,” Banks said. “Movies that touch on such sensitive topics should come from people who understand the plight of what it means to be black and take the time to put together a film that sheds light and tells a detailed look into this time period. I understand dramatization sells, but at what cost?”

Senior Aaron Brown believes black people deserve to see films that represent history, no matter how atrocious it is.

“Yes, it is hard to watch so many films that depict black trauma, but if they can educate and shed light to more people on the true stories of slavery, then it should happen, as long as those aren’t the few types of movies where black people lead,” Brown said.

While some find the stories of slavery to be hard to digest, Woosley found empowerment from the tales displayed on the screen.

“These movies make me realize that we are strong as a people,” the senior said. “When I think about the slaves who worked those fields so that white people could make money, the enslaved women who cared for the children of their enslavers, I’m reminded that my people are powerful people, and without them, this country would not be what it is today.”

As to be expected with any delicate matter, the opinions on slavery movies and their importance in today’s society varies from person to person. Ultimately, the choice to watch a film depicting slavery is up to the viewers themselves. What will you choose?

Election Day party hosted by HU organizations

Shadae Simpson | Staff Writer

Did you remember to vote this Election Day?

The NAACP, Beautiful Black People (BBP) and the SGA Virginia League of Conservation Votes

Education Fund presented an Election Day Party on Nov. 5. This Election Day party took place in the Student Center Cyber Lounge from 1 to 5 p.m., and it included a DJ, food, photo booths and raffles.

Students bonded and conversed over good food and Rita’s Italian Ice, all while listening to poetry from students from various organizations around campus. HU student Sheba J., a junior entrepreneurship major from Yonkers, California, represented BBP as artistic and creative coach. She presented a poem in which she talked about African Americans overcoming oppression and exercising their individual voices.

“Don’t snore, don’t sleep, just encourage your people to get out there and vote!” she said. “Every oppressor since the dawn of time has fallen, when a group of committed people walk in unity and quit crawling.”

The event was created in hope of persuading students to go out and vote in the Virginia State Senate and Virginia House of Delegates election. It is important to have experiences such as this because they bring light to the current events that young adults entering the world need to know about. These organizations are raising awareness about exercising one’s right to vote, especially for African

Americans, because many young people feel as though their vote does not matter.

According to TheBestColleges.org, young voters make up more than half of the voting population, which makes us a powerful political force. The main goal is to encourage people to “drive the change,” go out and vote and start by making a difference where you live.

The problem is not everyone understands why they need to vote. The politicians who hold office play a huge role in everyday lives. They control money, rights and rules. Without a government, the country is nothing. Every vote truly does matter when it comes to these elections. Every vote counts, and the outcome will affect everyone’s lives.

According to The Washington Post, Virginia Democrats won both the House of Delegates and the State Senate. This is the first time that this has happened in 26 years.

“I think that Virginia becoming a blue state is a huge step in the right direction,” said Hampton University student Paige- Monét Vosges, a senior journalism major from Brooklyn, New York. “Even though many of us are not actually from Virginia, this is where we attend school, and our votes here are just as important.”

The Washington Post also stated that Virginia’s legislative elections drew high interest this year, with a flood of donations and a surge in absentee voting. This shows that holding events such as the Election Day party can be successful.

Students even had the opportunity to receive transportation to their respective voting sites in a “Black Voters Matter” shuttle bus.

“I had a good time at the Election Day party,” said HU sports management major Joshua McKissick, who is from Jacksonville, Florida. “I think it’s always a good idea to bring a sense of fun and enjoyment to a serious matter like voting.”

Overall, this was a successful event that increased voter participation. By bringing more attention to the importance of voting and everyone going out and exercising that right, little by little, voters could see a change in this country.

State of Emergency: The current state of R&B

Jordan Sheppard | Staff Writer

“Where’d the music go?” This was the question asked by R&B singer Leela James in her 2005 single “Music” from her first studio album A Change Is Gonna Come.

In the song, James is questioning the state that music was in at the time and can be used in terms of the music of today. Many mainstream artists are more focused on making money rather than making songs that have meaning behind them.

One of the genres that James is touching on is R&B, as she mentions the likes of Gladys Knight, Marvin Gaye and Chaka Khan.

When she asks where has the music gone, in particular where has R&B gone? The genre that is known for putting people into all kinds of grooves and helping people fall in love seems to have disappeared from the mainstream platform.

In previous decades, ranging from the 1960s until the mid-to-late 2000s, R&B had a solidified spot as one of the nation’s top genres, with artists such as Anita Baker, Stevie Wonder and Luther Vandross becoming household names and crossing over to the Billboard pop charts.

Once the year 1990 had come around, the genre was in for a decadelong peak, producing many hit artists and groups such as Mary J. Blige, Keith Sweat, Brian McKnight, Toni Braxton, SWV and Boyz II Men.

Many have coined the ’90s as the Golden Age of R&B, considering it to be one of the best periods for the genre.

Though the ’90s had a lot to offer, this decade is the beginning of the answer to what happened to R&B.

“R&B started to go downhill when hip-hop started becoming more mainstream,” said Kevin Anderson, Operations Director of Smooth 88.1, WHOV. “It’s like R&B had started to take on a hip-hop or urban persona, and it started to be reflected in the subject matter and approach to making music.”

Hip-hop had emerged in NYC in the 1970s, and then throughout the ’80s, but had struggled to gain the momentum to cross over into the mainstream and pop market. Many radio stations at the time had refused to play any of the genre’s music.

Once the ’90s had come around, hip-hop had started to rise through the ranks, emerging as one of the top genres along with pop and R&B. Rap artists such as MC Lyte, LL Cool J, Coolio, 2Pac and many more had begun crossing over into the pop charts and cracking the top 10.

At this point, the relationship between R&B and hip-hop had formed. Many R&B artists had rap artists featured on their songs and vice versa in terms of rap artists featuring R&B artists on their songs to sing either hooks or choruses.

This newly formed relationship didn’t go well for R&B, as hip-hop had begun to push it out of the way for more room to stand in the spotlight.

Then many R&B artists had begun to take on the culture and personas of many of the current hip-hop artists of the time.

“That male persona, being boastful, [had] started to take over the culture, and then from there, R&B was next,” Kevin Anderson said.

R&B used to be purely about love, and once hip-hop had entered and it was packed with these rough and tough and over-sexualized lyrics, many R&B artists had taken suit and followed. They also used many hip-hop beats to sing over.

The divide that used to separate both genres is what essentially brought them together and then started to kill R&B, therefore kicking it out of the mainstream field.

When people say that R&B is dead, the response to them is that it isn’t dead, it’s just not mainstream anymore.

While you have hip-hop to blame, consumers are also to blame. In order to help keep R&B alive, we have to support the artists and buy or stream their music.

R&B has a lot of hope left, and eventually it shall see itself back into the mainstream market.