Saturday, 3 September 2011

In defence of R‘n’B

My friend Anthony and I run a little gay R‘n’B night here in Manchester called ‘Off The Hook’. Out and about one evening, plastering the Gay Village with flyers depicting a beautiful butched-up Kelis, I approached the barman in one of Canal Street’s less salubrious dens to ask if I might display a poster in the bar. The worried lad went to fetch his manager who studied the offending item. ‘We won’t have anything to do with R‘n’B,’ he told me in no uncertain terms, sliding the beer-sodden Kelis back across the bar.

Shortly after hearing this confusing ‘policy’, a couple of DJs I admire took to publicly knocking R‘n’B music. I would hazard a guess that ‘trance’ and ‘death metal’ aren’t riding high in their iTunes playlists either but for whatever reason they were spared.

Back in the day, ‘disco’ was the ultimate curse word when it came to musical critique but in the time-honoured camp tradition of treating frivolous things with deathly sincerity, disco is now a serious business. Promoters who until recently denounced certain crowds as ‘disco dollies’ are now proudly splashing the d-word across their flyers. R‘n’B has become a musical punchbag in its place.

A multi-million dollar industry doesn’t need me to fight its corner of course, but if we’re talking cash it seems R‘n’B is the final remnant of the pop world where the pink pound isn’t shamelessly courted. Not to knock Gaga but I much prefer Cookie Crew’s ‘Born This Way’ to hers. That’s part of the pleasure. It’s like the good old days where you could find things with ‘gay appeal’ that weren’t strictly speaking meant for you. It’s a relief not to be fed with a big pink spoon for a change. Kelis may have played Manchester Pride but she doesn’t seem to much care what kind of boys she brings to the yard, so long as they come.

Queer people seem to respond to a sexy dichotomy of camp and butch-femme that rules the roost in the R‘n’B world. After watching Beyonce tear Glastonbury a proverbial new one this year, I emerged from the swamp to find the rest of world in agreement: Beyonce, not Lady Gaga, is First Lady of Pop. If you don’t like R‘n’B, just let it be. As for me, next time I drop Destiny’s or Sunshine Anderson or Adina Howard and that whoop and holler goes up from the crowd, I’ll still be hooked.

1 comment:

dj trish said...

Hi Im Trish
Im a local DJ here in NJ.I make mixes too.Ive been loving old school motown and Stax lately.You are welcome to check out my blog.
Peace love and music