Ever get that not so fresh feeling? In a world of “No scratches, no hickeys, all I want is a quickie,” I did. But it really wasn’t my fault. I had been drinking from the vine and I inadvertently (or somehow on purpose) got pulled from The Fish into a dirty puddle of UM. Urban Music. Feeling defiled, like a Levite, I had no choice but to go out back and sacrifice one he-goat, a half rack of gourmet lamb, and two organic turtledoves. (Without spot or blemish, of course.) Ignorant and godless, my neighbors merely imagined that I was barbecuing.
What tricked and beguiled me was an angel singing. Yes, as if chanting, in a monotonous shouting of words, Beyoncé was singing “put my love on top” and the strangest thing happened. I thought I heard in her tone the channeling of another angel. I thought Michael Jackson was singing “You got what I neeeed. Baby, you got what I waaant” like back when he was a little boy and black. UM, what I meant to say was, to the rescue of Urban Music, I thought he was back.
Then Usher’s “run awaaa-iii-ay” falsetto, flying so high, nearly blasted me into orbit like the bubbles in my glass. And although he sang of “our being together coming undone,” don’t believe that. Believe this: His falsetto was so sweet, I could smell the honeysuckle. But when he sang the word “climax,” as my face blushed in hues of passion marks, a warm shower of shame (like a toilet running over) came cascading over me.
If you’ve ever wallowed in the mud of UM, you’re aware that it all slides down hill after performances by Miguel, Beyoncé, and Usher. Gasp. Some jr. hip-hopper actually bragged (in not so tight verbiage over a loose as stool track) that his sexual prowess would make the bed “gushy.” Gushy? Is that the FCC equivalent of wet? If not, would someone please inform the hood that a thesaurus is not a prehistoric creature? And that there’s been no need to figuratively grope for words in eons?
And whatever happened to the splendor of metaphor? Anybody can call “the cookie” “down there” “birthday cake.” Is there no love in Urban Music unless “it feels like a heart attack”? My bad, UM is not The Quiet Storm. No, this ain’t that sort of soirée. It’s not that subtle. Neither are the lyrics.
Today’s Urban Music is not Grandmama’s “I’m gon do you right” R&B. Today’s Urban Music is hormonal—R&B hopped up on Hip Hop and Red Bull. All it wants to do is you.
Today’s Urban Music is “heads turning like the Exorcist.” It’s hardcore, “gettin’ brain,” coarse-grained sandstone. Pure “Bend it over. Back it up. If you ain’t freakin’, we ain’t speakin’. I just want to see you strip. (Why?) Because it’s late” grit. Pure “get it popping in the parking lot” “mmhmm, rock yo’ body” grime. Pure “been at the bar too long, can’t stand up” “meet me in the bathroom stall” gutter goo spilling (eew, shudder) over “red eyes, no Visine” hypnotic beats.
Yes, what Urban Music squats and downloads as lyrics is often so shocking that it will make you chuckle nervously or grimace in disgust. And yet, for what they put in those addictive beats alone, it’s tempting to want a “refill.”
Urban Music then, however you chop and screw it, is indisputably the fleshy stuff of forbidden fruit. One bite reveals how plastic, tasteless, and “skeet, skeet, skeet, water gun” empty of substance it is.
But don’t get it twisted. Urban Music is, UM, screwing the kids. So this wisdom I spit (yuck, I hate spit) is not merely the pent-up ramblings of a stuck-up prude. Urban Music should come with a public service announcement—a sticker of sorts that reads “for mature audiences only.” But here’s the catch-69. Truly mature audiences get turned off by the obscene. It’s the cartoon camel on a pack of cigarettes conundrUM: the very group it attracts is least sensitive to its long-term effects.
Aping every verse, as if it edifies like scripture, makes the boy spitting seem immoral, crude . . . Neanderthal. And it, UM, objectifies the girl. That’s you, Ma. So “throw your hands up.” Don’t weld them to your sides the first time you hear ya boy grunt, “We don’t love them hoes.”
Speaking of witch, even if Alicia Keys continues to mistake walking barefoot on a shiny piano for walking on a black ocean of moonlit water, she will never be the glory that is Beyoncé. Beyoncé, however, as anointed and gifted as she is, must be careful never to degrade herself with another song like “Dance For You” for her husband—or any other jigga. Such shameless shimmying and gratuitous “gr-gr-gr-grinding” and “swir-swir-swirling on ya” should be left to strippers for dollars and experts like Rihanna, Queen of the Caribbean, who got dem mesmerizing, super-freaky, serpentine dancehall moves in da blood, Mon.
No wonder a multitude of fans has wound their panties in a bunch over Brian McKnight’s X-rated new song. Some artists (like the abused and neglected) will sell their souls for a teaspoon of attention—to be relevant—even if it taints the talent and ruins a clean reputation. For instance, what a waste of energy it’s been all these years for Christina Aguilera (who can blow) to believe she was in a battle with Britney Spears (who cannot). Sad. Tupac and Biggie Smalls, notoriously, are dead presumably because of the same Mickey Mouse bullshĩŧ!
Cupcake, is it just me? Am I a prude for thinking Urban Music is devil’s food? I know “it’s better than yours,” but I just don’t want “my milkshake bringing all the boys to the yard.” I don’t want just anyone “biting my birthday cake.” That’s unclean. And no one has to tell me that hangin’ round that azzless-chaps-wearing, mudslinging Xtina might make you “dirty.”
So here’s a warning: The next time you’re sampling, tasting the words, or just hUMming along to UM, try not to gag. “At the same damn time” should you become mindful of the bitter taste of debauchery in your mouth, don’t be surprised if you feel an overwhelming involuntary urge to rinse with Clorox . . . and repeat.
Have you personally sampled Urban Music only to get a bad taste in your mouth?
Editor’s note: The stuff in quotations is mostly close or actual lyrics from Urban Music artists (that we all, shamelessly, love).