Opinion: Advice To 10 R&B Artists


Sometimes, I like to give advice… quite often actually.  Today, the victims, err…benefactors of my advice are some R&B artists.


Usher, your album Looking 4 Myself was a good album. BUT, I’d love to hear you return to your roots for your next album.  It


is hard to recapture Confessions, your diamond-selling juggernaut, but I think your fans would love some of that contemporary R&B swag as opposed to completely going ‘pop’.


Monica, you have a sensational voice by all means.  I personally enjoyed New Life, but album sales themselves reflected a bit drop-off from the Grammy-nominated Still Standing My advice would be to ‘spice things up’ next album.  New Life played things too safe.

Chris Brown

Chris Brown, I’ma need you to refrain from hedonism and references to condoms, no B.S., and all of that jazz.  You must be

Chris Brown
Chris Brown (Photo credit: Eva Rinaldi Celebrity and Live Music Photographer)

careful to not go ‘so safe’ that you pull the whole R. Kelly “when the heat’s on me I go tame” approach, but you need an image revamp.  “Fine China” impressed me for a while, but as the song has peaked, its not quite a ‘juggernaut’.  Try to find a balance.  Furthermore, like your colleague Usher, remember your roots.

Alicia Keys

Alicia Keys at Tokyo Summer Sonic 2008.

Alicia Keys, I love you and have had a crush on you since you were “falling in and out of love…” or at least since you said “You Don’t Know My Name“.  I liked it when you were “…on fire”, but I speak for many fans who feel that your latest albums haven’t had the same magic as Songs in A Minor or The Diary of Alicia Keys (As I Am can make a case to some extent).  I know neo-soul is dead – much to my chagrin – but maybe re-infusing some more of that sensibility into your music would make you even ‘swag-ier’ in my eyes ;-).


Mario, you have a beautiful voice, but you are one of the more underrated R&B males of today.  I’d say on your upcoming albums and in the future, make sure you release music that is going to heighten your profile without compromising you musically.  In other words, don’t try to release a pop-record just because you can or think it will make you a star – it could alienate you from your die-hard fans.

Jennifer Hudson

Jennifer Hudson, you are indeed a powerhouse… you can out-sing many-a folk.  That said, sometimes you over-sing.  The American Idol finale with Candice Glover was the most recent instance of this.  On your new album – whenever that materializes – there is nothing wrong with reserving/stripping back your inner-powerhouse a bit.

Trey Songz

They say all I talk about is sex.” You said it yourself Trey Songz.  It’s true and it is certainly a popular topic among dudes, BUT, you don’t wanna over do it to a level where things grow misogynistic or plumb ‘ghetto’.  Chapter V debuted a number one, but it didn’t end up being a sales triumph like previous efforts were.  Change up the formula WITHOUT relying on ‘pop’ means to do so.  What was nice about Chapter V was the fact that you didn’t do what Usher or Chris Brown did.  Now, make some adjustments, find a hit single (don’t try to copy the formula for “Bottoms Up” again like you did with “2 Reasons“), and get that paper… He he.

Kelly Rowland

Kelly Rowland, you are beautiful and you possess a nice voice by all accounts – you can sang.  In some regards, I like the fact that

Kelly Rowland
Kelly Rowland (Photo credit: Eva Rinaldi Celebrity and Live Music Photographer)

you are going for an edgier alternative to Beyoncé with such tracks like “Motivation” (Here I Am) or more recent singles like “Ice” and “Kisses Down Low“. BUT, don’t pigeonhole yourself into sex as it can be your undoing (Janet Jackson and the Superbowl as well as 2004’s Damita Jo). Also girl, you know you gon’ have to separate yo self from Beyoncé.



Miguel, you blowing up homie! Keep doing what you are doing musically, it is sure to pay dividends. My one piece of advice, avoid doing big jumps and flips on stage.  That was a hott mess. Yes with two t’s.

Toni Braxton

Toni Braxton, release another album, please.  That said, you need to expand your scope from Pulse.  I know adult contemporary R&B and pop is your thing, but that thing is likely not going to supply you with a sizable enough audience.  Change it up some! No, that doesn’t mean you need go risqué like Kelly Rowland does on “Kisses Down Low”, but drift away from the formula some.   

There are more tidbits of advice I could give to several more R&B artists, but I’ll save it for a future post.  Here’s ten to begin the discussion though.

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