Rhythm & Toxic
Not sure how I'll be starting this post but spare me 5 minutes. I've always been the type who's fascination with sound and beats outweighed those of the lyrics being said. And, more times than is socially acceptable, I've noticed these lyrics have held some pretty misogynistic/toxic messages — from artists where it may be expected... or maybe not so much.
Let's take a road down memory lane. Remember when R&B music was mostly centred around singing about love, women and relationships in an honest and mostly positive manner? Boy groups and singers such as Jodeci, Boyz ll Men, Jagged Edge, Kenny Lattimore, Ginuine, Usher and others sang about topics many people could empathise with, such as love, pain, sensuality and relationships with some racy exceptions.
Notably, it consciously and subconsciously excluded misogynistic/toxic language and implications, due its historical roots. Essentially, artists wrote and sung about what they thought women wanted to hear. Why? Because their audiences were predominantly females although it as still favoured the male point of view, and we readily subscribed to it however this doesn't seem to be the case any more.
As of late, I noticed the sound of R&B is debuting back to mainstream with the originals and newcomers, except there’s something about this time around that sounds a lot wilder and aggressive. The image and sound of R&B has dwindled from what it was, to which from a creative point of view is wonderful and insinuate growth. Growth is eminent and everything is subject to change. However, when such change signifies misogynistic/toxic language that degrade women, i.e. ‘If I call you a bitch, it's cause you my bitch. And as long as no one else call you a bitch then there won't be no problems'—which is both hypocritical and denigrating, then a dialogue needs to be had.
Speaking with Rolling Out, Bobby V. expressed his grieve over how R&B has gone “all the way hip-hop” and how that has essentially left many singers “out the door.” How can one maintain some level of success in this climate? Bobby V explained, “Of course, you can make an R&B song degrading women and saying some negative things and that may work. Because it seems like those are the R&B songs that are working now, which is a little sad to me. But I’m not that kind of guy.”
In this post, I'll be sharing a list of some toxic lyrics that have gone over my head a few times and probably yours too because the vibes is just so overwhelmingly good. I religiously still listen to these songs knowing what these lyrics entail so God help me.
1. To start of this list, I have the beautiful track "The Recipe" from SiR's third studio album "Chasing Summer". In this track, SiR talks about a woman and her infatuation with him, and how he doesn’t believe in what she wants because its not in “the recipe”.
"I better fall back, I don't mean to mislead her
But if she believe every word that I said
I take it all back, she playin' follow the leader
But that doesn't mean that I ain't gotta leave here, I wonder
She say she could give me what I need
I should make her more than company
I swear she got that fire (Fire)
But does it compare to Cali? No
She's so happy when she's next to me
Thought she had me, baby, really thought she had me
Now she's fiendin' for the rest of me
But that isn't in the recipe"
In other terms, SiR chooses to stick with what he knows which is "Cali". Cali seems to be a play on his wife’s name Kelly. Does it(his other lover) compare to the fire/love he has for his Wife? No.
I've never heard cheating sound so beautiful. Phew. The gag is that, it seems SiR was aware this "affair"/"relationship" wasn't in the recipe before this "lover" came into the picture.
2. The second track on this list is from Giveon's four-track EP "When It's All Said and Done". The track is called "Still At Your Best". It seems Giveon wrote this song about a girl who left him but he knows she has a desire for him, although she's with a new man. He expresses how he feels towards her and her new man "That's a downgrade and you know it" and lets her know she always has a place with him.
"Are you serious? Are you kiddin' me?
What's the deal?
Oh no, no (Yeah)
This the one you talking 'bout that's supposed to take my place down, is this for real? (Hmm)
It's almost disrespectful
That's a downgrade and you know it
Still your best, me, still your best, me"
Giveon share with Apple Music " With me, the way I hang around with my friends and the way we talk amongst the guys, it’s kind of just an egotistical thing—even if it’s all a facade. And as the project carries on, you could tell it becomes a facade. So this was just a coping mechanism to just pretend that you don’t care. It’s kind of like a song I released previously, ‘LIKE I WANT YOU,’ but the other side, the more egotistical level." You heard from the boy, what a toxic coping mechanism but it sounds great so keep 'em coming!
3. We can't have this list without "OPEN UP" by Daniel Caesar from his second studio album "Case Study 01"
"I hate feeling rushed, girl, can I just be honest?
I don't feel like talkin' unless it’s 'bout me, or philosophy
Can we just get down to business?
And when we're both finished, then we'll have a reason to speak
Then you can open up to me, girl
Let me plant my seed, girl
Let me fill your needs, girl
Open up to me, open up to me"
Do I need to say more after reading those lyrics? The song communicates Daniels struggle to balance his identity and his superego, specifically with his relation with the woman he's referring to. On one side he has his sexual desires but on the other he has his more deeply rooted wants/needs. All in all, he wants this girl to open up regardless of how he is acting which is rather selfish. But who cares about all that when this track is just so perfect?
4. Hope you're still reading. The next track is from the "Nxworries" Album. A collaboration we all never expected by Anderson. Paak and Knxwledge.
"I keep tryna tell ya, you can't keep me on a leash
No matter how hard you train me
I'll do what I want in the end, and you can't disagree
But they make it so hard to be faithful
They make it so hard on me
The top of the day, baby, look what they wearin'
I'm just headed up the street, they ain't carin'"
Paak appears to struggle with remaining faithful, although he minds his own business and stays ‘off the drink’ he is continually tempted by other women and lusts after them. In the 2nd verse, Paak agrees with the person he is romantically involved with. “No matter what broad you bangin' you know who you love in the end and I can’t disagree”
5. It's not a toxic trackl without the King, Brent Faiyaz. We have "Poison" from the album "A.M. Paradox". In this track Brent Faiyaz is referring to a woman who he loves but he knows that the relationship is damaging and poisonous, yet he is willing to go through the hardships just to love her. Sweet, although f*cked up.
"Know you ride it right
I might just die tonight
But you know i'm still coming through baby
I know its bad for me
And you know it tastes so sweet
I think i need your abuse baby
Girl you do damage to me
You know I love it, Yeah I love you
Ain't nothing better for me now
Girl you do damage to me
You know, I love it, yeah I love you
Ain't nothing better for me now
Than your poison baby"
And that ends my list and this article. I can go on and on but you'll get bored so I've curated a playlist to give you a feel. The playlist is collaborative so feel free to add tracks you feel fit the criteria.