I’ve been wondering for a while — since when did modern soul/ r ‘n’ b become synonymous with sex?
I was digging through the r ‘n’ b bins of my local record store when I stumbled on a modern soul comp, Midnight Soul 3. The track listing was tight — remixes from cats like Japan’s Grooveman Spot. A digger’s dream.
But I couldn’t get over the cover: the photo depicts a young man and woman pre-coitus. While I have no problems with the image itself — I like sexually suggestive images — I hate what it represents.
Take a look at the r ‘n’ b bin and it becomes obvious what A & Rs think about soul music in 2007: young, urban (re: black and brown) hipsters in sexually suggestive clothes and poses.
Brings to mind an old racist chestnut: the image of the over-sexualized POC. Back in the day the image was used to sell the white majority on the evils of integration. Today it’s used to sell records.
Sex and love are important subjects — especially in r ‘n’ b and soul — but the music has always been more. The sounds of soul have been at the forefront of social change — and in fact there are still plenty of social message songs written and sung in the genre.
So why can’t the covers reflect this?