Naima Cochrane Profile picture
Gen X emissary. Snack aficionado. Storyteller. Industry veteran. Black girl. #MusicSermon. @clivedavisinst. @bma_coalition.

Mar 11, 2018, 95 tweets

Ok ya'll, give me like 30 more minutes (tonight's #MusicSermon took a bit of organizing), and we'll get started with tonight's service.
If the ushers will please start seating, and the praise & worship team come...

*Steps into pulpit*
*Adjusts mic*
*Sips water*
*Opens texts*

I apologize for the lateness in the hour, and ya'll might as well get prepared, saints, cause I think this is gonna be a kind of long one, but I gotta get it out how I feel it, amen?

We all know by now (I hope) that #MusicSermon is a B2K (before 2000) centered ministry. However, I promised that at some point, I would heavily relax those restrictions for a specific sermon topic, and I believe the time has come…

The word says that old things are passed away and all things become new, but in music that’s a lie. Musical influence goes in cycles.

But the 90s took in a completely new direction with the growth of Hip Hop and then it's marriage R&B, creating new genres, including Hip Hop Soul. Live instrumentation was being replaced with samples and interpolations. It was a younger, fresher, and more rhythmic leaning sound.

But then at the turn of the decade (and century), in what I believe was a direct sonic response to the hip hop soul era, there was movement of music reverting back to live instruments plus old soul, jazz and funk influence - but in a new way.

Neo Soul.

So before we get into it, ya'll know how the order of worship goes.
Let's have a couple of Church Announcements

1. As with any sub-genre, some acts are definitive, some are kinda subjective. This is meant to be a representative, but not exhaustive, list. (Because one of ya'll are gonna say "Where is ____?")

2. It's pretty inevitable that at some point (or multiple) I'm gonna have some typos. Just... read for context. Apologies in advance.

3. It's not over until you see the Benediction.

4. There will be a playlist when this is done (but maybe not until tomorrow)

The 90s was largely @ the rise of New Jack Swing moving into Hip Hop Soul, and the increased collaboration of R&B and Hip Hop.
But during this time there were artists trading in specific kind of soul that was a precursor to Neo Soul. Let's start with a young Lalah. (1990)

I've said before that Zhane was absolutely a few years too early musically. They would have killed had they come out 4 or 4 years later and hit the first real Neo Soul wave. (1994)

Rene and Jean were everything the Neo Soul movement was about. Vibey. Natural. Jazzy. All of that.

I also said in Brownstone's bio for the 90s R&B Bracket that we heard some hints of what was to come in their vocals (or you could say we heard elements of what *was*...same thing...)

Mista usually gets classified as just straight 90s R&B, but if you listen to their album, it could have fit in with music that came later. They don't have the neo soul look, but they had the sound and the subject matter.

And we'll come back to Amel, but Groove Theory was also giving us early retro soul vibes.
RT if you were low-key (high key) in love with Bryce.

D'Angelo was the first of what I'm going to call the FIRST WAVE of true neo soul artists to hit the scene, with Brown Sugar debuting in 95. We were still in an era of jazz and deep soul-inspired hip hop, so he just felt like an R&B extension of that, at first.

We knew he was something special, but I don't remember us having a word for it yet. We probably called his style a throwback (in a good way), honestly.

By the time Vodoo came, Neo Soul had a name/was a force. And D'Angelo's smokey, sexy, retro, musical ass sh*t fit solidly in the middle of it.
There was no social media, no youtube, no video websites, still early blog days when this dropped; f the internet, it broke real life.

Then in 96, this beautiful man here dropped one of the sexiest albums we'd seen in ages, and we realized something was happening.

Maxwell, and his hair, and his voice, and his moves....
Just EVERYTHING. A vibe. A mood. A kickback. A session. A cypher. All of it.

And just BEAUTIFUL songs. Max had transcendent songs. Just hitting you all in your soul songs.

Then in the Spring of 97, two things happened:

One: Badu

Kedar Massenberg, the Motown exec who managed D'Angelo during Brown Sugar and signed Erykah, coined the phase Neo Soul specifically to market her. Because there was no other descriptive that properly described her sound.
Clearly, the moniker eventually grew and caught on.

Erykah dropped Baduizm in Feb and the live album in the fall, between that and the next musical event, it marked 97 and the *official* introduction of Neo Soul.

And then, before the phrase Neo Soul had the chance to become a thing, the first (and honestly maybe *only*, on this level) neo soul soundtrack dropped, for the net-soul-esque movie that ya'll negroes on here love to hate 🙄

In my top 4 (5 if you count The Bodyguard) 90s soundtracks, Love Jones had jam after jam after mood after jam, and an early taste of what Lauryn was about to come with for her solo album.

So speaking of L Boogie, we never could have expected in 98 that we'd have to ride off of this joint for TWENTY DAMN YEARS. Sigh...artists...

Shout out to a time when Lauryn and D'Angelo on a song together didn't feel like a musical unicorn. We had no idea.
Also, this song is fcking perfect (and I've told ya'll I have a thing for snap tracks)

D'Angelo, Max, Erykah and Lauryn are the 4 Horsemen (Horsepersons?) of Neo Soul, but there were a few other artists in the vanguard who often get left out of the convo. DeBarge was possibly the best R&B group of all time, but young Chico also had a moment in this space.

Chico did a whole album about being your ex man who got locked up, came home, disrupted your whole life, and then sang sweetly in your ear about how romantic it was that he ain't have no money, but ya'll were gonna make it. And it was a bop. And I played it non-stop.

Davina was signed to Loud, which was very much *not* an R&B label. She was talented as hell though; wrote and produced the whole album herself (I need to check on whether she kept writing).

Side note, is it just me, or is the "BET Lounge" like, empty? LOL

I'm going to focus a lot on ballads tonight, bc that was my pocket for Neo Soul. Them wayyyy down deep in your feelings songs. This genre is perfect for them.

And people didn't really start paying attention to Eric Benèt until his second album, which was....99? But his first joint was earthy and conscious and incensey and all that good stuff. I actually think this might be his only album I own.

And because we all just revisited the blue-eyed soul sermon yesterday with Toto's original "Georgie Porgie" (w/ Cheryl Lynn on backing vox)... let's take a look at Eric & Faith's.

In 2000, Philly came back to grab the soul music crown. If people weren't clear already that neo soul was a more than just a passing sound, now they knew.
Leading the charge (that you're getting in the way of): Jilly from Philly.

THIS is how Shirley shoulda came at Barbara.

Mary mixed street with soul in a way we hadn't before seen yet at the time, but this was something COMPLETELY different. It was different even than what Lauryn was giving us. Jill and this 132 octave operatic range, her ACTUAL, physical presence, her LYRICS...whew...

And even now, nobody can quite write/sing about love - current or past, physical or emotional (or sh*t, spiritual) - like Jill.

Like, this song will have you calling people you legit have no business calling.

Ya'll know who comes after Jill...

Bum da bum ba ba naa...bum dum dummmm...

By now Def Jam had a soul imprint (clearly necessary to stay competitive). Musiq, Case, Montell and later Patti Labelle (which is still 🤔 to me, but whatever) where signed to Dej Soul.

Musiq had HARCORE street ninjas out here singing their hearts out about LOVE.

Moving away from Philly for a hot second (we'll be back), another label staking a heavy claim in neo soul was then still-new J Records.
Angie Stone (who we had NO idea was connected to D'Angelo until later), came with serious retro vibes, vocals and feel.

Angie gave us grown up two step bops with these red cup & BBQ samples.

I should also mention here that neo soul started to become a catch-all phrase for almost any R&B that 1. was going back to live instrumentation (or the FEEL of it), and 2. Had STRONG vocals plus 3. Had a throwback but street feel to it.
Clive's marquee artist encompassed all that

AK proved Clive still had the touch to discover/develop massive female talent. Again, an artist actually PLAYING was a big thing, even 6 years after D'Angelo sat down at a hammond organ blowing blunt smoke.
One time for the stalker anthem (and John Legend on bgv). RIP Pan Pan.

Staying with J Records for a minute, thank you, #BlackTwitter, for helping me realize this song was a call for help.

Oh, wait bishes. I almost forgot my favorite AK song out this mug. With a son of soul/father of neo soul, Dwayne Wiggins. (Although one of her backing vocalists is on this live version)

Before I get too much further ahead chronologically, I gotta stop at Bad Boy. Like I said, neo soul was kind of becoming a catch-all phrase, so it might be debatable whether Carl *really* belongs here, but for the sake of tonight, he does.

Here's a fun fact: They were revising and making changes to the Emotional album for like a year before it was released. Anybody remotely affiliated with Bad Boy had been rocking it since Summer 99 (it came out in Spring of 2000). I have at least 2 versions. At LEAST.

We both in the club high, singing off key...

I mentioned the 3T's being sons of soul (ha...they actually named an album that) but also fathers of neo soul. Ray Ray kept himself in the game for this genre. First with Lucy Pearl...
BTW, the headscarf movement ain't new, young kings.

...and then solo, making his clear intent with the album title Instant Vintage (and again, isn't it so good to remember the days when D'Angelo features didn't possibly drive you to tears with thankfulness to the music gods that he reared his head?)

Ok, let's go back to Philly, and Bilal's odd little kinda-Prince, kinda-crazy self.

And the floecists. I never thought I'd rock with a legit spoken work/singing combo in a real way, but they worked.

And we knew Marsha's pen game was official EARLY.
(Wait, everybody knows she wrote "Butterflies" for Michael, right? Ya'll all know that.)

Ok. Very Very brief intermission while I grab snacks and wine. BRB

As we continue on...

Kindred and the Family Soul aren't from Philly, but they're Philly-adjacent because they were signed to Hidden Beach with Jill. They were up for a grammy this year; I need to check on whether they won.

Also Philly-adjacent, since it's where he came of age and his second home - John Legend. It's easy to forget sometimes that John and AK came into the came with the "neo soul" class.

And adding this from John's sophomore album because it's all my friends' favorite John song (ya'll know who you are).

If you have this on a playlist still, right now, you were going to Afropunk before it became a "thing"

Let's talk for a little more about the neo soul that was more just...young soul/vibey R&B...
Like the EXTREMELY underrated Amerie.

Amerie's All That I Have album is a banger. You can still put it on and just let it ride. Perfect spring/summer weekend music. I played it in the GROUND.

Shout out to the Monolo Timbs moment (or Steve Madden, depending on your bracket 🤷🏾‍♀️)

I really, really love this song, still. But this video is like - one of the most unfulfilling videos of all time. Like they really couldn't meet up at the end? Also, ya'll REALLY thought we don't know the difference between downtown and 145th street?

And moving into more of the Vintage Soul area, Jaheim.
Jaheim's voice is amazing. Truly. He came with the young Teddy P vocals.
But #BlackTwitter stayed on his neck for that blue suit for 3 solid days. Lawd, that was funny. (I'on want no smoke man, I know you search your name)

And since we're over in Kay Gee & RL land, let's throw Jaheim's musical cousins up in here.

Another example of neo soul really meaning vintage soul...

Somebody put some greens on.

Anthony's voice got red clay in it; I swear fo' god.

Oh damn, I almost skipped India.

I want to point out that I ain't made it past 2003 yet. I couldn't do a thread on all the R&B artists since 2010 that would be this long. SMH.

So...#confession, I can't really listen to India's anthemic songs ("Video" "I am Not My Hair") anymore. But she *does* have a gorgeous voice and tone.
Like I told ya'll earlier, I love the ballads from this era.

Former Jill Scott background vocalist Vivian Green is firmly in urban adult radio two-step land now (and has some BOPS), but she was helping give voice to our unnecessarily complicated early 2000's romantic lives.

I totally jumped ahead and skipped her on the timeline ( but I said I'd come back to Amel Larrieux as a solo artist.

Neo Soul is also sometimes interchangeable with smooth jazz for us urbans. You know your mama and 'nem done seem Kem fifty'lemen times at the Jazz Fest. (ANY jazz fest)
I actually hate to admit how catchy his damn songs are.

I going to use Dwele as a soft set-up for the segment we're going end on tonight: hip hop that also falls under the neo soul (or neo soul adjacent) category.
But we have a couple of more songs to cover before we jump all the way into that.

Around 2004/2005, neo soul started moving out of the mainstream into solely urban adult formats and jazz festivals (like I said a minute ago). It's still around though, just not with the same name, and I'll touch on that before we break.
We're still in 2003 here (SOOO much music)

So I put this song in the Adoration thread, because it's amazing and every time I listen to it I have to run it back at least three times, and this is how you should feel about *them*, whoever your them is.
Also, the "Moments in Love" sample doesn't hurt.

And after I listen to "You" 82 times I have to listen to this about 40 times. Or vice versa.

Corinne might technically be a little late (2006) to fall under "neo soul" but I'm putting her here anyway.
Her husband committed suicide not too long after her first album, and even though she's still active (I think) that (understandably) put a huge pause in her career.

Hip Hop has a place in the neo soul conversation too, with the progression of sound from straight boom bap and the jazz influences Native Tongues, Digable, etc were using. And in the case of The Legendary Roots Crew, they are STILL one of the only black bands standing.

When you think of all the artists we just went through, and consider hip hop collaborations, I can almost guarantee there's a very specific handful that come to mind... The Roots are probably first.
(Can we talk about Tariq's grown man glow up over the years, though? Man...)

Double whammy's even: hook written by Jill but performed by Erykah.

The second hip hop act you're most likely going to think of in relation to neo soul is Common.

After Like Water for Chocolate & Electric Circus especially, soulful vibes fell right into Common's wheelhouse (and yes, I know this is Mary and not someone we talked about tonight)
I really love this video.

Oh hey, here's an Erykah collab.
(It's a requirement, seriously)

And next on your list is probbbbbably gonna be Dilla.

And if we're talking about hip hop and neo soul, I gotta park in front of @phonte's house for a second.

Phonte's given us vibes with Little Brother, AND with The Foreign Exchange... (which came together as a group - I believe - thanks to Okayplayer, so it still comes back to The Roots)

And @phontigallo just dropped a new solo joint, and I heard it's incredible, so ya'll go support your fellow #MusicSermon congregant, please and thank you.

QTip, Talib, Mos, Will.I.Am (early Will.I.Am when BEP was still backpack hip hop - did you know he co-wrote "Ordinary People"?)...they can all kinda apply here, too. But I'ma just use Mos. Bc "Umi Says" is my sh*t.
This is our benediction hymn tonight.

I left some folks out I meant to include, and I’m sure there’s some ppl ya’ll wish I had included; you’ll get some of them on the playlist (TOMORROW).
But for now...

If all hearts and minds are FULL ✋🏾

May the soul and spirit of music keep you
May it bring fond memories back to you, and be gracious until you
May it wash its warmth over you, and give you peace.

And all the people said...

And as always I am appreciative if you are moved to give. There’s quite a few things cooking (consider it the Building Fund) and your support helps.
You can give at$naimacochrane

Dammit - MAnolo

OHHHH, I forgot I said I’d talk about the new/current artists with the neo soul sound. I’ll add the addendum as a bible study lesson tomorrow.

For a change, I’d started putting this week’s playlist together as I was prepping the sermon (I usually do it after), so it’s like 2/3rds done and needs to be sequenced, but I’m playing it while chatting with ya’ll, and YOOOOOOOOOOOOOO... it’s 🔥

Annnnd BAM - When Old Things Become New: Neo Soul for Spotify…

And - When Old Things Become New: Neo Soul for Apple Music…

Oh, Apple Music folks, the Floetic album isn’t there, so you have all live versions of Floetry songs. Not necessarily my preference, but...

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