Is there cause for a Civil Rights Movement in Radio?
I’m really confused. I first heard this really incredible ditty that mixed a lot of Old School flavor with a touch of Robin Thicke minus the rap. The song was actually sung by Justin Timberlake! For the life of me, when I realized that, I could not believe a song like that could even get airplay. It just sounded too Black…not Hip-Hop, but Black. While many Black Americans, and even those who grooved to the Soulden Oldies with their Newport cigarettes and Bartles and Jaymes wine coolers, remember the somewhat carefree time period of the late 70’s and early eighties, Justin tries to bring back that emotion with a song that would only survive on the radio because of his back-up feature. Had rap and business mogul Jay-Z not offered his pedigree to “Suit & Tie,” radio stations would not have helped the record debut first on the R&B Chart at number 9. In lieu of that, not even His Royal Spoiledness, Kanye West, would have had such a chance to even hit the airways with a song of such tempo as J.T. has bestowed upon us.
In other words, remove Justin Timberlake from “Suit & Tie” and what have you got? That would be a B-side to a 45.
Is Justin Timberlake an R&B singer/performer, or is he right-at-the-line Pop? Not even the ever-effervescent Bruno Mars could have payola’d his way between the white noise. Yet, Justin has yet to debut on the Pop Chart with the song. Remembering a time when Hennifer Hopez entered the music world with her “Waiting for the Night,” her affiliation to make a mark on any chart was to use and nearly abuse Black artists with sheer prowess, coyness, and manipulation. Since she split with the kind of artists and producers that fill dancehalls and occupy the charts – because of true talent, repeat performances have yet to appear in Miss Hopez’s life. Along with that now lack of lyrical camaraderie, Hennifer is now allowing her nude body to be displayed with pleasure in films that try to show her softer-side after children. It seems that the group Hennifer abandoned has now abandoned her. No longer is she considered elegant, demure, or graceful. Hennifer Hopez is desperate. But why is Justin so desperate?
Although “Suit & Tie” is a quality-song, just imagine it as Justin only featuring and Jay-Z taking the lead. Would it make it to the airways? Not on the Pop charts without another Black artist. Well, Justin brought “sexy” back in his own way and wants to infect the world with a false sense of security. “Suit & Tie” is in no way a typical Pop Song. For the most part, the record does have meat. It’s just a shame that a Black male artist couldn’t and wouldn’t be given the same opportunity to do the same thing. A true feel-good period lyric, (minus the social message) has no mainstream radio play for a Black artist…mainstream meaning Pop. Though that artist may sell millions of a cd, not even Robin Thicke could expect to be so lucky to be heard by those who wouldn’t give R&B music the time of day.
Singer Maxwell most definitely could sing “Suit & Tie” without the help of grandmaster Jay-Z or anyone for that matter. Commercially, the choice to release the record mainstream would be disastrous for his record label. Maxwell is considered an R&B singer. Compare Maxwell’s “Sumthin’ Sumthin’” from his ‘Maxwell’s Urban Hang Suite’ with J.T.’s new single. Funky, groovy, chillin’…only to go on deaf ears to the world outside of Soul/R&B. Congratulations, Justin! There is favoritism on the radio, so you are NOT the Biggest Loser! It’s just that there are numerous artists of color who are saying, “Hey, that sounds like…!” Then again, even Hall and Oates hit the Soul/Rhythm and Blues charts, just as George Michael did with the album that held such soulful songs like “Father Figure” and “Faith.” I guess there was just no need to incorporate somebody else’s rap into their music…with so few of them out at the time. Still, radio stations only make it dark when they want to. Ole School just doesn’t seem the same without a true trooper.
Just when we thought we had lost J.T. to Hollywood’s big screen, he shows us that all men are not created equal. They may have been created “equally.” Just not equal. Not everybody can afford a “Suit and Tie.” I guess a really good actor can make you feel something from nothing. You would never see any person of color in any of the roles J.T. has had in Hollywood. It’s no surprise.