“R&B died in 2007”: Nostalgia in Music Consumption

Nostalgia is a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations. Confucius once said that “music produces a kind of pleasure which human nature cannot do without.” Music and nostalgia go hand in hand — they’re almost inseparable.

 We’ve all had those moments when we’re listening to a specific song, or maybe even a whole album, and we begin to reminisce about a different time, a happier time, and occasionally, a darker time. That’s what music is all about; it’s about the experience and how we can adapt our own experiences to the music we’re listening to. This is probably the main reason why you always find yourself listening to Take Care by Drake (or The Weeknd, walk in your truth) after a disastrous break up, or why you can’t keep your leg still when “Stanky Legg” by GS Boyz is blaring through the speakers at a house party.

 Nostalgia is a doubled-edged sword; it can take us back to the greatest times in our life or send us spiraling down a deep dark hole of sadness and regret.

Some notable statements include:

And we can’t forget about this one…

Some would even argue that R&B died before that. Although there may be some truth to statements like these, they aren’t completely honest. These statements were all based on their own experiences and opinions, but it’s important to keep an open mind when listening to music.

 Nostalgia can skew your opinion on music you’ve listened to with your parents as a child, as well as your opinion on any new music you may have listened to yesterday. Thoughts like “Kanye will never make another The College Dropout” are accurate. If you have had this thought you are probably right. But, why should he? You can listen to the album as many times as you like; nothing is stopping you. I understand that there is a strong desire for new music with that specific sound, but it’s important to understand an artist’s perspective. Absolutely no artist enters the industry with the idea that the one mixtape/album/EP that brought them fame will ultimately sum up their entire career. 

Artists that don’t change their sound with the times are often left in the past (e.g. Ginuwine, Tweet, Mario, Ludacris, Nelly, Ja Rule). One example of an artist that has changed their sound with the times would be Kanye West. Kanye West’s longevity in the music industry is a testament to his dynamic sound; regardless of your personal opinion about his music or life you can attest to this.

If you don’t like contemporary R&B or Hip-Hop there is nothing wrong with that, but you should ask yourself “why?” As a community, I think we all need to sit down and ask ourselves “why?” we didn’t like the Weeknd’s latest album Starboy (I know why! Because Wizkid is the only Starboy I acknowledge). At the end of the day, we all need to listen to music for what it is, and not what we think it should be.


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