What 90s R&B Taught Me About Love & Relationships

“If the love doesn’t feel like 90s R&B, I don’t want it” says the meme that’s been floating social media in regards to today’s standards of relationships. It’s something about 90s R&B that my generation (and some of the younger generation) love that we desire a relationship with those standards. I don’t know if it was the emotions or the simplicity but people love the music.

For the record, I am a die hard 90s R&B fan. 90s R&B is the soundtrack of my teenage years.  Hell, I’m listening to a 90s R&B playlist on Apple Music as I write this post, bringing back memories of days of old.

When radio would play New Jack Swing, Quiet Storm, Hip-Hop Soul and Neo-Soul mixed together all day. Artists such as Usher, Mary, Xscape, 112, Dru Hill, Mariah, Erykah, Maxwell, Brandy, SWV, TLC, Jodeci, R. Kelly, Whitney, Boyz II Men, Jodeci, and a plethora of other artists would dominate the airwaves. Love ballads written by Babyface, Diane Warren, and David Foster. Remixes produced by Jermaine Dupri, Trackmasters, Timbaland, and Puff Daddy packed the dance floors. Videos directed by Hype Williams, Paul Hunter, and Diane Martel was on heavy rotation on both BET and MTV(when they actually showed videos). Talent shows filled with people trying to sing like Monica and dance like Michael, Janet, and Aaliyah.

Today’s R&B music seem to lack romance and seduction. It seems like it filled with anger, mistrust, and not believing in love. You would think today’s artists hate relationships based on the content of their music. Listen to the radio and you will hear the following statements every ten minutes: These hoes ain’t loyal. You can’t trust thots. Eat the booty like groceries. And my current favorite: all we do is fuck, drink, and sleep. No romance at all.

Today’s R&B makes me want to take nude selfies on Snapchat and make funny faces while getting high off Molly and become sexually confused because you can’t the difference between a gay and straight man. 90s R&B music makes want to Bankhead bounce, Mary Bop, and have a good time while sipping Cristal or Alize in a bubble goose or jean jacket.

When I think of 90s throwbacks, I automatically think of partying. If it doesn’t make me wanna party like a 90s R&B song, then I don’t want it. Unfortunately, I don’t think of love and relationships when it comes to 90s R&B(I can so feel the side eyes and I’m anticipating the comments).

Think about it: strip away the hip-hop samples, the live instrumentation, and dare I say, the talent of 90s R&B artists, there are recurring themes in the 90s R&B that will have you say “fuck love”  just like today’s music. What were relationships really like in the 90s based on themes in the music?

Let’s explore these themes:

Being on the DownlowKeep it on the down low. no one has to know. So I creep, creepin’ on the downlow. If your girl only knew. You’re my little secret. I’m not saying all these songs are about men meeting up at the 24 hour gym or the parking lot at the park after dark for hot man to man sex. Being on the DL back in the 90s meant not telling anyone about your affair or relationship. Creeping was an extracurricular activity and if you didn’t get caught, you get extra bonus points. Which leads me to the next theme: cheating.

Cheating is cool unless your sidepiece overstep their boundaries.  Kandi Burruss one purred, “Everybody cheats.”  The cheating theme was prevalent in let’s practice safe sex decade. He’s mine, you may have had him once but I’ve got him all the time. What your girl don’t know wont her. I’ll do anything to make this love go further. I can love you better than she can. Let’s not forget Brandy and Monica’s The Boy is Mine.  According to 90s R&B, you will get cheated on, you will be doing the cheating, or you’re going to be the sideline ho. Today’s R&B: These hoes ain’t loyal and you can’t trust thots. 90’s R&B: I don’t care if you’re taken, I still want you and hopefully we don’t get caught.

Men ain’t shit. Thank you Mary, Toni, and Deborah for this revelation. Before MJB became happy, Toni Braxton did reality TV and Deborah Cox start doing Broadway, these women had relationship woes at the ass. Seven whole muthafucking days and not a muthafucking word from you.  I’m not gonna cry over your black ass and because love should’ve brought your ass home last night. Things just ain’t the same since I started singing another sad love song and stopped breathing over you. I just wanna be happy my nigga. So please un-break my heart. I love your trifling ass without a limit and you’re all I need to get by. How did I get here? I wasn’t  suppose to be here. You want me stop breathe again so I can make your ass stay. After all the changes you put me through and you’re wonder why I’m getting sentimental, you ass want to walk away from my love. Just so you know, we can’t be friends now. (My bad ya’ll this area is a sore spot for me). To say these songs predicted my love life is understatement. 90s R&B prepared me for the heartbreaks, head aches, and pains of dealing with relationships with men.

-Good guys finish last. I know in the last paragraph, that I said men ain’t shit. However, they are some good guys out there but have to clean up the mistakes from the last guy did. For every R. Kelly and Jodeci that broke your heart, there was Babyface and Boyz II Men to show you the world. The goods guys wanted to do all things your ex-man wouldn’t do for you. They promise to pay your  rent and take you on shopping sprees. They would even babysit your kids when you go out to the club, drink your dirty bathwater after the party’s over, and co-sign for your student loans. Good guys would say, ” You need a man with sensitivity.” However, he was too soft for you and he committed the ultimate crime: he treated you like royalty and he actually respects you. The good guys finished first on the pop charts, however, when it came to R&B, the barely get an honorable mention. Good guys wanted to make love to you, where as the bad boys wanted to sex you down..which leads to the next theme…

 -Sex, sex, and more sex. I will admit, if your sex game doesn’t feel like a 90s R&B song, I definitely do not want it. Everytime I close my eyes, I wake up feeling horny.  Are you a freak like me? I wanna get freaky with you. Do you mind if I stroke you up with my 12 play? We can do it doggy style or go downtown for the red light special. Don’t be afraid to taste my love and come inside. We can do it anywhere, anytime, and anyplace. I don’t care who’s around. Let’s knock some boots and lay back, kick it, and enjoy the ride.  People think today’s R&B is too raunchy. 90s R&B made you sweat out your French Roll and S-Curl kits.

-Horrible pick up lines.  Every R&B song in the 90s was a bad pick up line in the making. Either your reminded them of someone they once knew or you reminded them of their jeep. You were either sweet as candy rain or brown sugar. You make them weak in the knees by playing the kissing game and staring into your pretty brown eyes. Or they wanna be down with you for either next lifetime or until the cops come knocking. So come and talk to me. Can we talk for a minute? Pickup lines were like vines and Instagram in the 90s because we used them to get attention and likes. You actually had to spit game to get someone out of their Calvin Kleins, unlike today where you can just follow them on Snapchat.

Do you still want a love to feel like a 90s R&B Song? Deep inside everyone does. We all want someone to have our back and fight for our relationship even when times are hard. We all want someone to make us feel better as soon as we get home from a stressful day. Even doing little things like cooking us dinner and washing our funky drawer just to make us smile.

90s R&B represents a time when love was innocent and hard at the same time. Where dating was the norm and love was real. Even if the dude cheated on you, he begged and pleaded to give your love one last try. More importantly, we all want a homie, lover, and friend that majority of the 90s R&B singers longed for in their songs. I believe that my love will feel like a 90s R&B song again one day.

What is your favorite 90s R&B Song and why is it your favorite? Share it below and keep the conversation going.