When One Moment Ends, Another Begins

2016. The “awful” year that seemed to fly by in the blink of an eye. I don’t mean this in the same depressing memes and posts I’ve seen, in which everyone is lamenting about 2016 being the year of pain and suffering, about it being the worst year ever. It wasn’t a horrible year. A trying one, yes. One that engulfed many in heartache, most definitely. But I’ve been viewing it mostly as the year that the wool was lifted from the eyes of many, where the reality of life and the world finally seeped into the forefront of the social media circus, permeating the shallowness of so many with a hard dose of truth. The idealism that we may have felt on 12/31/15 has been chipped at a little, but it doesn’t mean that the year was lived in vain. Some of us attained knowledge of self and others, in ways that made us question everything around us. It was a year of growth – uncomfortable growth – that served the purpose of revealing our strengths, and our weaknesses.

chicago

As I reflect on all of my experiences throughout the year, I feel accomplished, and at peace with everything I’ve gone through, good and bad. I traveled a lot – including my first trip to Europe. I met my favorite hip-hop artist/activist, David Banner. I saw Beyoncé give an amazing concert in my favorite city of all time, NYC. I took a chance with my writing, and although the dream hasn’t come to fruition yet, I am a step closer to realizing it. I rekindled precious friendships that I believed were all but lost, and I came to terms with the fact that some are sadly lost forever. I learned patience, and loving even when the love isn’t returned in the way I desired. I realized that kindness should always be the first choice, and when it’s not an option, then silence is best. And most importantly, I learned that I am not for everyone, but it doesn’t make me any less unique and beautiful.

aer-lingus

Tonight, as you get closer to the countdown, I urge you to give a little reflection as well. Many of you will be out partying until your hearts’ content, but before you do, be thankful for all that you have gone through this year. If you were the same person you were this time last year – hell, if you’re the same person you were yesterday – then you have failed your goal of living and evolving.Be kind. Be loving. Be positive. You made it through, and if you made it through with scars, remember that they can still be healed. Make some real plans – not resolutions, but goals that you can etch away at each day. Look forward to everything that’s ahead of you, because it will be an amazing time. Every day is a gift just waiting to be unwrapped, so make sure you’re present for every moment of them.

at-the-ball

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Me, Myself, and I (co-authored by Anwar W.)

After a great discussion the other day about the demise of the beloved R&B group, Anwar (@A_Double_U) came up with the first in our series on R&B groups. Please comment, and enjoy! 

For people who long for the days when lyrics mattered, Pandora and Spotify are godsend. The other day, I was truly jamming to my custom-made Jagged Edge station, which was playing everything from 112 to Allure (I know, I’m dating myself). As I sang along to some of my favorite songs from some of these groups, I began to get nostalgic thinking of the days of yester-year. Jagged Edge, Jodeci, TLC, Blackstreet, SWV, Brownstone. The list of groups was endless and you couldn’t turn on BET or The Box without their videos crowding your screen. If you were like me, you and your friends practiced their choreographed dance moves and tried to put together outfits from your closet that resembled theirs. Nowadays, though, I’m hard pressed to name even one active R&B group…or hip hop group for that matter (yeah, we still have The Roots, but they are more of a hip-hop band. I’m thinking more A Tribe Called Quest or Wu Tang). 

112

So what happened to the group? Is it our “Me First” culture that celebrates the individual rather than the collective efforts of a group that brought the group’s demise? Maybe it’s a sign of the times. Facebook, for example, became open to everyone, not just college students, in 2006.That same year, Destiny’s Child gave their farewell performance at that year’s NBA All-Star Game. (Speaking of Facebook, their new Timeline allows users to curate posts, pictures and more from THEIR own life thus focuses more on the individual and less on their friends).

SWV

Maybe irreconcilable clashes over creativity killed them. Or maybe it was a combination of a few different factors. Whatever the cause(s), it seems to be afflicting these genres disproportionately. Groups like The Black Eyed Peas, Kings of Leon, and Coldplay have been together for years and continue to make music as groups so what is it about the R&B group?

Where Have All the Groups Gone?

It seems that instead of creating groups, the industry is churning out a bunch of boutique labels, with solo artists being featured on each other’s songs. This trick of the trade appears to be another factor that contributed to the eradication of the group. Now, instead of having to share your earnings with three or more people, you can actually MAKE money by selling your talent, depending on your popularity. The more in-demand you are, the more you can pillage from the up-and-coming artist who just need that exposure. And speaking of independent labels…they’ve also found a way around having to function as a group. The more in-demand you are, the more you can pillage from the up-and-coming artist who just need that exposure. Although they are a group of like-minded artists that all work together and pretty much function as a group, they get around that label by marketing themselves as solo artists who roll together.

Young Money

I love a strong, powerhouse singer like Beyonce or Dave Hollister, but often, I truly miss the dynamic and range of personalities and style of a Destiny’s Child or Blackstreet. At its very essence, having a group of people who can come together and make entire album, makes the process that much more appreciated and the output that much more beautiful. Boyz II Men harmonized like few R&B groups ever could, and Brownstone shared their soul with us through their music. Those groups had that something…something that can never be replaced or replicated with the solo artist.

Destiny's Child

 

Don’t forget to check out past blog posts, and check at Anwar’s site, Let’s Press Rewind, and follow him on Twitter, @A_Double_U

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