4 Narratives Used By Male Ol’ School R&B Singers (Article)

During the late 70’s and 1980’s when I was learning and absorbing everything about different R&B songwriting styles and how these styles appealed  to music listeners;  I made it a point to pay close  attention to what the singers were talking about.  I have chosen 4 narratives that are successful with R&B audiences. 

Narrative One: Love/Relationships

Love and relationships is an understandably common narrative by default. Love & relationships  is something everyone at one point in their lives will experience; the ups and downs of love. Most narratives are written about the beginning of relationship or the end of a relationship, however, a few songs have been written about the contentment of a relationship.

Narrative Two: Party Music

The narrative for Party Music is usually structured around an infectious beat and an light message that is centered around having a good time or enjoying your life. Party Music is usually radio friendly.

Narrative Three: Politics/Inspirational

Politics has play a major part of the R&B narrative  since the late 60’s carrying over into the early 70’s because it was the only way during that time that inner cities voices could be heard about their hopes, dreams and fears.  By the mid 70’s the music landscape started to shift towards a more inspirational narrative: Disco played a big part in inspirational music because the majority of Disco music was about liberation and freedom. However, by the mid-80’s  politics began to entered into the urban narrative once again:  not through R&B but through Hip-Hop.

Narrative Four: Sex/Sensuality

Even though, the sex and sensuality narratives has always been in R&B music, the Disco era increased the narrative dramatically with its pulsating music.  However, it was during the music video age that the sex / sensuality narrative exploded and normalized a once risqué narrative.


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