Capitalism and the R&B Group

New Edition, SWV, Destiny Child, Shai, Atlantic Starr, Dru Hill, H-Town, Troop, Guy, Boyz II Men, Portrait, 112, Jodeci, Jagged Edge, Blackstreet, and Xscape. What do all of these groups have in common? These groups impacted the musical scene from the 80s throughout the 90s. The other interesting thing about these groups is that the majority of them aren’t together anymore or are together in a limited capacity. The idea of R&B groups breaking up is nothing new–everyone from The Temptations to The Commodores to The Supremes all went through their break-ups. The difference is nowadays no one seems to work together in a group to get the music poppin’. I have come to the conclusion that capitalism killed the R&B group concept forever. And I mean forever-ever like Andre 300 said.

The R&B/soul group has always been the staple of the musical community. Soul groups fans have always be enamored with the dancing, showmanship, and precision from groups. Steve Harvey told a joke in The Kings of Comedy about how the R&B group would all share one mic. As silly as the joke is the idea of the group idea of all sharing one mic, one amount of money, one amount of fame, one amount of groupies, and one amount of mic time has become more and more of priority in this world. It seems the more individualistic we of a society we become the less and less we see the concept of an R&B group. They even have a direct correlation to each other.

Just how as a black community buying so much into capitalism did a lot of detriment to the black community the same can be the same of the R&B group concept. The R&B group of the past was just like our communities, a collective of people working together for one common good –“the group”. Time would go on and groups would break up and make up just like people would leave the communities but the concept of “the group” always stayed intact.

R&B groups from The Temptations to The Miracles have all broken up or went through group turmoil but the music industry never abandoned “the group” concept. It is understandable to see how financially the group concept isn’t as lucrative for a record label. Between slumping album sales and audience attention span shorter than ever money isn’t coming in like it used to. Labels and artists have decided that instead of working within a group that it is better to go for dolo. Those notions are all understandable but we can’t deny the idea of a person wanting ALL the attention, ALL of the money, and ALL of the groupies has a lot to do with the reason we don’t see R&B groups anymore.

As this world becomes more and more individualistic and all about the dollar bill, the less we will see the R&B group that we all grew to love. No more Jade, The Deele, Loose Ends, Hi-Five, Total, Changing Faces, Immature. But, we shouldn’t be surprised because we live in a “me” society that is all about the dolla dolla bill…ya’ll!

– Darryl Frierson

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Darryl Frierson is a graduate of Iowa State University with a degree in Journalism and Mass Communications and a degree in History. Born in Chicago and raised in St. Louis, he has lived and/or traveled to almost every state in the United States. He describes himself as a Writer, Progressive Philosopher, Sports Junkie, and Promoter who Grinds hard like a 808. He is currently working on his first book, a romantic comedy, called ”Loose Ends”. Darryl has written for The FreshExpress, Black Sports Online, Show Me the Blog and various other sites. You can catch him on twitter at @diggame and on his blog From Ashy to Classy.


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