You know that classic Jay-Z line, "I can't see it coming down my eyes, so I got to make the song cry"? Pure genius from his 2001 album, 'The Blueprint'.
It came back to me recently while chilling to some Babyface tunes and pondering life's mysteries, and it dawned on me - the male R&B artist, the ones who poured their souls out in their lyrics, have practically gone extinct!
One of my current favorite tracks? That's gotta be VSOP by K. Michelle. A killer beat with powerful female-centric lyrics. But here's the thing - why do I feel like a misfit for emotionally vibing with these words?
Our society has always peddled this image of men as tough and emotionless. From a young age, we're schooled to mask our feelings, wear an iron shell, and put on a brave face.
If something's bothering us, we're told to either duck for cover or toughen up so it doesn't faze us anymore. And if we're not taught these emotion-management skills, we end up suppressing our feelings until they explode in fits of rage and frustration.
Back in the day, the radio was our ally, our therapist. If you were feeling miffed with your girl, the DJ would magically spin Al Green's "Let's Stay Together". The lyrics, they spoke to us, guiding our reactions.
And when we hit the road, we had the likes of Jon B., Usher, Tyrese, and Dru Hill riding shotgun. Their tunes gave us a sense of solidarity, reminding us we weren't alone in our struggles.
But the radio has changed its tune now. Today, it's more about hoes, bitches, and thots - not exactly the kind of content that fosters emotional maturity, is it?
Men, inherently, are conditioned to learn about strategy, camaraderie, and competition. When Boys II Men sang "I'll make love to you", they taught us tenderness and mutual respect. When R. Kelly crooned, he coached us on intimacy.
However, the current music scene is like a basketball court without a coach, leaving men without a playbook for understanding their feelings.
In an ideal world, embracing both masculinity and femininity should be encouraged. But today, we're living in a world where men, not necessarily the tough ones, are subconsciously compelled to act tough.
And since the current chart-toppers are mostly women, we're left decoding their lyrics to find echoes of our own experiences. These songs are crucial for empathizing with women's experiences, but what about male emotional expression?
Men are left without a musical guide, forced to navigate their feelings on their own.
There's a glaring gap in the music scene that needs to be filled. It's time to bring back the male artists who aren't afraid to make their songs cry. Because, just like Jay-Z, sometimes we can't see it coming down our eyes, but we've got feelings to express too.