The Euro-fication of American Urban Music


Apr 18 2011, 0:45

Not since the age of Disco have we seen RnB and pop artists turning to dance music so heavily. Ironically, its a genre of music African Americans invented and pioneered, then abandoned in the early 80s, for it to go underground in NYC, Chicago, and Detroit turning into House, Garage and Techno. It was then quickly picked up and perfected by white Europeans on the continent and in the UK.

Let's blame Timbaland/ Danja and Justin Timberlake for not only bringing Sexy Back, but bringing 4 to the floor beats back into American "urban" music in the mid 2000s . Not only were we getting house and discos kick drum thuds, but other synthy goodness, like the gated trance arps in My Love

But of course Timbaland loves to copy himself, and we got more Euro/Urban hybrids with Keri Hilsons The Way I Are, Genuwine's Get Involved, and Omarion's Ice Box

Danity Kane came to us with the 4 on the Floor romp of Damage, along with Jennifer Hudson's excellent,Ne-Yopenned slow burn first single Spotlight.

Other RnB producers started to fall in line and were starting to borrow heavily from 1990s European dance music. Hoover synths and trance arpeggios may be 15-20 years old, but they are fresh to American pop music ears.

If Timbaland was the first salvo, Lady Gaga/RedOne, Max Martin and Dr. Luke were the ground troops with their mix of eurodance and savvy pop hooks. Making it totally safe for the DJ to save any RnB/Pop singer's life.

Kelis, Akon and Kelly Rowlands left the states entirely to get huge followings in Europe with their David Guetta produced singles. Acapella is a 550 degree turn from Bossy. Kelis' turn to Europe is less shocking since she has been working with european dance artists like Timo Maas and others for the past decade or so.

The Black Eyed Peas hit world wild phenom status with David Guetta produced I Gotta Feeling

Now a days, if you're in RnB, you can't get away UNLESS you have at least one dance track on your album. Ne-Yo is getting all acid 303 on our ass in Beautiful Monster, Chris Brown has hooked up with benny benassi of Satisfaction fame, and Rhianna is raving it up on S&M and Only Girl in the World.

You even have RnB go to producers like Rodney "Darkchild" Jenkins and Polow Da Don trying to make 80s dance throwbacks.. with mixed results. the Darkchild produced Telephone by Lady Gaga was a hit, while Christina Aguliera's Bionic album fell completely flat.

Rihanna's S&M was popular, but a pretty dull uninspiring dance tune. Taio Cruz was breezy summer fun with Heartbreaker

What was once novel experimentation is now mainstream and bordering on cliche. And as usual, you have a monopoly of producers making the majority of the hits in the US Billboard Top 40..Martin, Dr Luke, and RedOne, which makes for a stale pop music scene.

But RnB --may-- be in for a change. Hot Internet sensations The Weekndand Frank Ocean are turning to raw, earnest, singer songwriter story telling withstood c genre hopping production through rock, pop, hip hop, rnb and even IDM.

But just like auto-tune and rushing dirty south 808 snares, Euro N B could be out like a light by this time next year.


  • fkln

    Good piece, though I would argue Rihanna has been purely a pop artist since Loud.

    Mag 11 2011, 15:09
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