Fade to Blackstreet… once again
Coming back from the fame of the previous decades onto the current music scene is the new trend in Hip Hop and R&B. some see more success with it and some not as much. In the world of R&B, Ashanti’s and Brandy’s comebacks were somewhat disappointing. After all, the fans’ taste for music had changed and it would be hard to match the success of the previous works. On the Hip Hop’s scene EPMD’s and X-Clan’s return to the studio saw lukewarm results compared to the teenage idols like Lil’ Wayne or even Soulja Boy but brought the much needed alternative to the music of today, which sadly is about… nothing whatsoever. Whereas R&B stars from the 90’s or even earlier meant to appeal to a much wider audience, the Hip Hop acts from those days, even including the more commercially acclaimed acts like Redman or Diddy targeted a specific audience of people who have become their core fans forever. R&B stars spoke of change in their lyrics and Hip Hop heads insisted on maintaining their style and approach just the same.
Unfortunately (or expectedly so), speaking of change and working on albums titled Still Standing (Monica) artists find it hard to even recover their album advances (as meager as they have gotten) and struggle to book enough performances. Staying on course with no changes over the years is easier if you rely on a core of fans that admire your own distinct sound and style. When Jay-Z dropped out of the game for a short time he kept the fans’ attention by developing new artists for Roc-A-Fella, like Rihanna and Ne-Yo. Plus his music after the initial album (Reasonable Doubt) always focused on commercial appeal. Yet when artists like Big Daddy Kane or Rakim come back after a break of many years, they fail to amass a new fan base and find their old ranks of devoted fans rather depleted, despite those artists’ talents and significance on the scene.
On that note, back to R&B and welcome back Teddy Riley’s invention of the early 90’s, Blackstreet. When during the 2007 VH1 Hip Hop Honors Diddy presented Teddy as the man who basically made him and inspired him throughout his entire career, he didn’t even say enough. Teddy Riley made a New Jack Swing band Guy in the 80s; an extremely popular R&B band Blackstreet in the 90s; produced Michael Jackson’s album Dangerous in 1991; gave life to the Hip Hop groups of the 90s like Wrecks-n-Effectand R&B groups of the same time like SWV; worked with Bobby Brown (made his solo debut album), Mary J. Blidge and on and on. How does this man top the accomplishments of his previous efforts? He doesn’t. He just keeps on working on what he loves: music.
VH1 Hip Hop Honors recognized his New Jack Swing efforts less than 2 years ago. Teddy brought back/reunited Blackstreet from their break from music and performed alongside all the members on stage of BB King’s in February of 2009. The packed venue was definitely filled with the fans of another era and it was much more than just No Diggity that sent everyone overboard in excitement. Queen Pen added that real Hip Hop flava to the infamous hit. The shirtless members of the group showed off their ripped bodies on stage like it was still their time and for that night it was their time indeed. Even the backstage was packed for over an hour after the show as dozens of friends came to rejoice in this memorable night.
Comebacks are always hard and never carry any guarantees with them. Mike Tyson didn’t fair too well in the ring after the break but George Foreman reclaimed his Heavyweight title at the age of 45. Michael Jordan came back for the 1st time to lead the Bulls to a NBA Championship but the 2nd time around he failed to amuse the fans playing for the Wizards. The Red Sox won 4 straight games against the Yankees after being down 0-3 in the world series of 2004. PageandPlant, Pink Floyd, Velvet Underground, Fleetwood Mac and Johnny Cash all came back after long breaks to an amazing reception. Even Michael Jackson is planning to hit the stage again this year in a world tour. Comebacks of Hip Hop and R&B stars are a bit more complex thou. Without diving too deeply into the nature of the music itself, its commercial appeal, longevity, musical and lyrical content and current competition it is safe to say that it is near impossible to predict an outcome of such an act.
One thing that is certain was the sold-out venue in Times Square on a freezing night, hundreds of smiling joyful faces and the sounds of familiar music. Once again, It’s going down, fade to Blackstreet…