WHAT IS NEO SOUL?
Soul is a term that has been used to describe several attributes of the culture of African people in America. Whether it's food, movement, music, etc.. it's been a custom since the beginning. There is nothing new about soul.
So, why Neo Soul? The term itself was developed by Kedar Massenburg to describe the style of music that was made popular by the commerical success of D'angelo, Erykah Badu, Lauryn Hill & Maxwell. In essence, the music and culture was "underground". What separated this newly defined genre from R&B/Soul music was the influences of Hip Hop, the incorporation of various musical styles as well as the consciousness and self-awareness that was consistent with that time period.
Much of the music featured the drum and ornamented it with basslines and a variety of musical elements. This created a raw and harder sound that maintained instrumentation and melodies. This combination is what separated it from R&B/Soul. The image and the content of the artist was reflective of the conscious communites across the United States and afar. Those who wore their hair natural and embraced their cultural heritage, had a voice in the music similar to what had existed in the late 80's early 90's Hip Hop.
Although the term was developed in the late 90's, several groups and albums were produced that had shifted towards that formula. Most of which came from across the pond. Artist from the UK could be considered the progenitors of what became known as Neo Soul and I think no one exemplified this more so than "Soul II Soul". Hard drums with a Hip Hop feel, socially conscious lyrics, and displayed their love for their culture openly. Other groups such as "Loose Ends" and "The Brand New Heavies" aren't given enough credit for their contributions but at the same time, they were and still are, widely accepted throughout the US.
With that being said, listed above are
selections of albums that are what I consider, essential to the Genre. Some others may be missing, some I like aren't included, but the ones listed are worthy of praise. I hope you have them, enjoy them, and if you don't, get as many as you can. They are great.
Here is the thing, Neo Soul allegedly is a forgotten genre. Many of the original artist are now mainstream, grown in different directions creatively, musically and/or artistically. So it has come full circle. It's "underground" once again. Everything changes with time. So many of the artist may not carry the same tenants of those of the past, the sound remains. What we are establishing here, is a platform to promote those artist (new and veterans)that still uphold the elements that made this version of soul, "Neo". Thank you for tuning in.