At the top of this year, we sat down with famed producer Bryan Michael Cox as he discussed his role in bringing the essence of R&B back to the city of Atlanta through his The Revival showcase.
Now, as the year sees its last days, it’s clear that the sentiment has been mutual for quite some time and that the genre’s most ardent lovers are still on a quest to restore its reputation in Atlanta while fully embracing its transformation in an era of vast musical independence.
Fresh off of a sold out A3C edition of his RnBUNTAPPED showcase, city influencer Drew Sanders took some time out to reiterate the importance of R&B’s journey only moments before the likes of Jacob Latimore and 7AM took to the stage to reinforce just why the treasured genre of R&B deserves the props that Sanders diligently works to bring to light.
One of the things that we’ve seen is Hip-Hop begin to lose its focus on content, and R&B is experiencing this shift as well as the lines become more blurred. What role does that shift play in the reasoning behind shows and events like RNBUNTAPPED?
We started this showcase about a year and a half ago. What drove me to start it was, like you said, the content. People say R&B is dying, right? But it’s really not. It’s just evolving. For me, I wanted to go back to the basics. I’m an avid lover of this R&B music.
So, content is real to me. I just wanted to bring color back to the city because it’s really trap driven. We need that real, feel good music back. Let’s talk about some love. Let’s put love back into the air. Let’s talk about heartbreak because everybody goes through these different emotions. Emotion-evoking music. That’s what it is.
Do you ever feel like the evolution that you’re talking about gets to a point where people lose sight?
I don’t think people actually lose sight. It’s so saturated right now—music in general. It’s so much going on, it’s a lot of fluff. So, how do we find those diamonds in the rough? Platforms like this. Platforms like what Bryan Michael Cox is doing, and you’ve got to have a good ear.
The people behind these platforms have to have a good ear. That’s one thing I really pride myself on. This brand, and my team—we really seek out the best. We’ve featured over 60 artists and I can’t say any of them were bad. They’ve all been good. You’ve got to have a good ear and know your vision for your platform.
Other than the artists that you’ve had on your bills, who are some artists that you’re listening to right now?
Right now? Since Childish Gambino dropped, I’ve been bumping that like crazy lately. I listen to this guy out of LA named SiR, I mess with him a lot. I love to listen to Anderson.Paak, Deven Terrell, H.E.R., Masego. I’m talking about the emerging artists that people haven’t heard all the way, yet.
That SoundCloud wave.
Yeah. You already know the SoundCloud wave strong. That’s how I’ve found most of the artists anyway. SoundCloud.
Speaking on that. SoundCloud has facilitated the independence of a lot of artists. What do you think about the emergence of independence and the shift away from big labels.
It’s the perfect time. We don’t have to go to those big labels, big companies anymore. Artists are making their money off of their streams on Soundcloud, Spotify, iTunes. You get a good distribution deal and that’s it really. That’s the beautiful thing about live streaming and the internet right now. If you want to go out there and you have great content, you really could push yourself and you can make millions. Look at Chance the Rapper.
But, it’s still not that easy. It’s not just putting your songs out. You got to have the right promotion, and your branding, all those different things matter, but I think it’s the perfect time for people to be independent.
How important do you think for a city like Atlanta to facilitate that—not just in R&B, but in music in general?
I think it’s important. I think we need to do more of that. Especially on the R&B scene. I think it’s important that people collaborate with each other.