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Great question, I’m glad you asked!

Ahhhhhh, the great debate rages on, in beauty salons, barber shops, college campuses, executive board rooms, locker rooms, message boards, blogs and recording sessions. Mac vs. PC, Tupac vs. Biggie, MJ vs. Kobe, the greatest running back of all times (sorry Emmitt, it’s still Walter Payton) and on and on. I particularly like what DJ Stylus with our friends over at SoulBounce had to say:

“Grown folks music makes it clear that it’s rooted in some sort of tradition. It’s music that satisfies on multiple levels. The enjoyment comes from the need to engage with it rather than having a passive experience. It’s the difference between fast food and a nutritionally-balanced, well-seasoned home cooked meal.”

I would add that it feeds the mind, body & soul, makes an emotional connection and transcends time. It has an inherent ability to move you, touch and drive you towards something (person, place or thing), rather than away from something (no artist mention needed). It takes you to a special place, one you may have forgotten, or want to forget, but yet it still reels you in. It doesn’t take “no” for an answer and forces you to be late for work, in your car listening, reminiscing, dreaming, thinking. It can turn a bad day around and conversely, turn stop a great day in it’s tracks. It grabs you. Makes you sing, makes you shout, makes you laugh and makes you cry; often within the same song. How is that possible? What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the term Grown Folks Music?

A quick google search yields the following: various old school/neo-soul blogs & playlists, Lo Moda (a self described band of grown-ups, with grown-up concerns), the heavily slept on Nicci Gilbert (formerly of Brownstone), Bruce Black, Nosaprise, Saint compilation,
State of War Music Group, and The Package. Wow, quite a diverse mix!

So, is GFM limited to “old school music”? If so, who defines old school? It’s a relative term that has drastically different meanings based on your age, musical exposure and points of reference. If you’re 15, N’ Sync might be old school. 30, maybe Boyz II Men? 45, The Temptations? 60, perhaps The Chi-Lites? Are any of them wrong? Does that mean that new artists can represent GFM only if their neo-soul? Do we really need yet another genre?

If you’re favorite old school artist puts out a long awaited, much anticipated come back album, and it’s garbage…proceeds to go double-wood, is that still GFM? What, by default? Are they grandfathered in based on their history? I recently struggled with this scenario, and it hurt. What do I do, post it? Review it & tread lightly, respectfully? Dismiss it, pretend I never heard it? Review it honestly and make a coaster out of it? (No, I won’t reveal the artist here…..yet).

If you’re a legendary old school artist, an icon, you don’t need a T-Pain produced, Akon hook singing, hot 16 from to be relevant! No offense to any of the aforementioned artists, but you’re a legend for a reason. Do you! You can “do you” within the context of today’s musical, production & music 2.0 environment and still be successful. Don’t do what you think your grandkids will like or what some record label bean counter, or what the “I make hits yo!” formulaic A&R exec tells you is “hot”. Trust yourself and do you. If the label won’t support you, do it yourself. We can help! That approach might work for you, but in most cases it doesn’t, hasn’t & won’t. 80% of the fans that come to your show are coming to hear the old, classic material anyway. Due to the lack of label support, promotion and generally flawed marketing, 60% of them probably don’t even know that you’ve got a new album out! But I digress.

What about genre’s? GFM, seems to be inherently associated with “urban music”; Classic Soul, R&B, Neo-soul, Indie Soul, Classic Hip Hop. Hip hop? Yes, I know there are many who feel that hip hop has no place in GFM. I couldn’t disagree more, but based on alot of what is considered hip hop these days, I understand the sentiment. There is plenty of hip hop for ‘grown folks’ to appreciate, both old & new. You might have to dig a little deeper or it, but it’s out there. If you think you’ve got it, bring it on, we’re always looking for great music to showcase. Check out our blogroll for a few starters, particularly Grown Folks Hip Hop.
Just because you curse excessively and sing, speak, rap about sex ad nauseum does not make it GFM, but rather it is “music suitable ONLY for grown folks“. There is a distinction.

What about Pop, Rock, Blues, Reggae, Soca, Calypso, Dance, Disco, Electronica, Classical, Brazilian, Folk, Dancehall, World & Country? A lot of great music in each of those, can they too be considered GFM?? If not, why not?

We don’t claim to have all the answers or be the ultimate ‘decider’. I think GFM can be all of those things, although we will slant heavily towards the expected niche. We will however challenge the mainstream and expand the definition for our purposes, because at the end of the day, good music is good music.

We want this to be a communal effort. When the site launches in the spring, and you don’t see your favorite artist represented, or know a new artist that should be included, send it in. We’ll review it and if it makes the cut, it will only strengthen the community. If there’s an artist here that you don’t think is GFM worthy, let us know, we can talk about that too.

So what have we accomplished here today boys & girls? Not much. In the words of that great African American philosopher (Cedric the Entertainer), “this ain’t nothin’ but healthy conversation“.

How bout an example?

This IS GFM:
Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes

This is NOT GFM:(Warning NSFW – explicit language & extreme ignorance)
Let me smell your d*(# ? (Is this for real?)

Unbelievable. Do you know what’s on your child’s ipod?!?

Sigh. I’m done.

I’m curious to hear your thoughts. Get at me, leave a comment, or if you prefer —