Why Hip-Hop and R&B Were Not Factors In My Musical Development

I consider assumptions that I, for whatever reason, am either a hip-hop or R&B artist insulting. Even some booking agents have simply labeled the genre on contracts "R&B," when on those particular occasions, set lists featured tunes by the Grateful Dead. What many people fail to understand is that I did not encounter these styles much, regarding my own personal background.

When I was growing up on the South Side of Chicago, my neighborhood was, for the majority of my time there, comprised of white Christian Evangelicals who would attend yearly retreats in the Dakotas. I studied at Catholic schools throughout my early life, as well, where the most commonly heard music was from Jesus Christ Superstar.

I was exposed to rap music in my teenage years, as the area's demographics began to shift. It failed to make an impression on me, and in the years since, it has only become less appealing, as almost all musicality has been stripped away from it.

Interestingly, my parents possessed a true disdain for what they considered, "Black Exploitation Music" - namely, anything marketed to African-American audiences between the late Sixties and early 1980s. I wish I had asked them more about this, as each stated it in separate conversations, but it was clear that only a rare moment would arouse their interests in these sounds.

In ways, I deviated from their path, as today, even though I do not consider hip-hop and R&B factors in my musical development, I always cite Norman Whitfield as my favorite producer. Whitfield was solely responsible for the "psychedelic soul" movement, which fused Motown's musical standards with contemporary rock stylings in that same era my parents loathed.