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Soul Deep Episode 6 - From Ghetto to Fabulous - BBC

By mike, 29/11/15


link for non-subtitles version available here


Soul Deep - The Story Of Black Popular Music From Ghetto to Fabulous - Ep 6/6

June 11, 9.00-10.00pm

Mary J Blige, the queen of hip-hop soul, speaks candidly about her journey from ghetto to fabulous in the final programme of Soul Deep. Her music represents the fusion of R&B and hip-hop and completes the journey that started 50 years ago with the emer- gence of the early soul sounds of Ray Charles and ends with black R&B artists' domination of the charts today.

The extraordinary story of the unstoppable rise of urban R&B, with its diamond-dripping, darlings of the media, high profile celebrity artists - such as BeyoncÈ and Destiny's Child - is traced back to the housing projects in Yonkers in the Eighties where Mary J Blige started out. Her tempestuous career began when producer Andre Harrell signed her to Uptown Records. "She wasn't an album, she was a movie," comments Andre. On the way up, the pressure of stardom nearly destroyed her. "To cope with life in the music business, I had to get wasted all the time," she admits. But her music spoke to the streets. She brought the rawness of classic soul into the hip-hop era. Andre says: "We took her pain and put it on a platform to be the communicator for all that generation of women who grew up in the Eighties in a single parent decade, with crack being the main drug - which took whole households out." Her music has had a massive influence. Kelly Rowland from Destiny's Child says: "I think of Mary J Blige as the Aretha Franklin of our generation because she's got so much soul."

Producer and former Fugees,Wyclef Jean discusses the meteoric rise of Destiny's Child (which has made them The Supremes of the R&B generation) and comments: "It's the hard rhythmic singing style of BeyoncÈ Knowles that makes her an extraordinary vocal figure." A pre-cursor to hip-hop soul was the emergence of new jack swing, epitomised by the alpha male performance of Bobby Brown. He brought black masculinity and ghetto style back to the game. Another part in the jigsaw of world domination by R&B artists was played by video producer Hype Williams. A former graffiti artist, he placed black artists in dreamy, exotic locations which brought urban R&B music to a wider audience. Images like Missy Elliott in an inflatable rubber suit,TLC on a swing and Puffy on a yacht "did for the video world what Picasso did to the art world - turned it on its head," comments writer Barry Michael Cooper.

The combination of all these factors has meant that R&B - with its roots in soul music which has been evolving over the last 50 years - has moved from ghetto to ghetto-fabulous to simply fabulo

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